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Chechen Supreme Court Upholds the Conviction in a Political Case
In response to the Chechen Supreme Court’s decision to reduce Ruslan Kutayev’s four-year sentence by two months rather than overturn his conviction, Freedom House issued the following statement:
“The Supreme Court’s refusal to overturn the clearly wrongful conviction of Kutayev and its launching a probe on libel charges against one of his lawyers, Pyotr Zaikin, only confirms that Chechen authorities exercise total control over the justice system and use it to settle scores with dissenters,” said David J. Kramer, president of Freedom House. “Given the utterly dysfunctional legal system on the territory of Chechnya and the apparent desire of Chechen authorities to silence Kutayev and undermine his legal defense, Freedom House renews its call for Kutayev’s immediate release and urges the Russian federal government to ensure protection of lawyers from threats and intimidation by local authorities.”
Kutayev is a former Chechen politician and a prominent public figure. On Feb. 20, 2014, two days after defying authorities by organizing a public commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the deportation of tens of thousands of Chechens ordered by Stalin, Kutayev was arrested, beaten, and falsely charged with illegal drug possession.
After his arrest, Kutayev said in a statement to his lawyer that the Chechen First Deputy Interior Minister and the Chief of the Presidential Administration of Chechnya both participated in his beating. On July 7, a court found Kutayev guilty, sentenced him to four years imprisonment and ordered him not to participate in public events for one year following the release from prison.
Russia is rated Not Free in Freedom in the World 2014 and Freedom of the Press 2014 and Partly Free in Freedom on the Net 2013. Russia receives a democracy score of 6.29 on a scale of 1 to 7, with 7 as the worst possible score in Nations in Transit 2014.
Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that supports democratic change, monitors the status of freedom around the world, and advocates for democracy and human rights.