Russia: release on parole for jailed human rights head in Chechnya welcomed
Oyub Titiev, head of Memorial’s Chechnya office, was convicted of drugs offences after ‘sham trial’
Parole comes days after detention of investigative journalist, Ivan Golunov, also held on dubious drugs charges
‘The real agenda behind his criminal prosecution on trumped-up charges was to stop a human rights defender from doing his lawful human rights work’ - Marie Struthers
Responding to news that Oyub Titiev - a prominent human rights figure in the Russian republic of Chechnya - is to be released on parole after almost one-and-a-half years behind bars, Marie Struthers, Amnesty International’s Eastern Europe and Central Asia Director, said:
“We have been calling for Oyub Titiev’s immediate and unconditional release since his detention.
“Today the court decided to at least partially amend the gross injustice by releasing Oyub in ten days’ time.
“In spite of overwhelming evidence that the case against him had been fabricated, the authorities in Chechnya crudely abused the justice system to convict an innocent man.
“The real agenda behind his criminal prosecution on trumped-up charges was to stop a human rights defender from doing his lawful human rights work.”
Drugs ‘found’ in human rights defender’s car
Oyub Titiev, who is head of the Chechen office of the Memorial Human Rights Centre, was stopped in his car by police on 9 January 2018 and held incommunicado for several hours. The Chechen authorities later stated that drugs had been “discovered” in his car. Titiev denied the allegations and insisted the drugs had been planted by police.
In March this year, Titiev was sentenced to four years in a penal colony after what Amnesty described as a “sham trial”. He was convicted of “drugs possession” (Article 228, part 2 of the Russian Criminal Code) by the Shali City Court in Chechnya on 18 March. Prior to the sentencing, he had spent one year and two months in pre-trial detention. Today’s ruling from Shali City Court in Titiev’s case will take effect in ten days’ time. Amnesty believes Titiev is a prisoner of conscience, who has been imprisoned solely for his work for the victims of human rights abuses in the Chechen Republic.
In another recent high-profile Russian case, the investigative journalist Ivan Golunov has similarly been accused of drugs offences in circumstances described as “dubious” by Amnesty.