Russia: Human Rights Champion Should be Released
Following the court decision to impose a four-year sentence Oyub Titiev, the head of the Human Rights Center “Memorial” in the Chechen Republic, Freedom House issued the following statement:
“Oyub Titiev should be immediately released, and the United States and its democratic allies should not accept the persecution of Titiev and other political prisoners in Russia,” said Marc Behrendt, director of Europe and Eurasia programs at Freedom House. “The absurdity of this clearly fabricated criminal case and its deeply flawed trial demonstrate the lack of independence of the judiciary in the Chechen Republic. Chechnya’s leader Ramzan Kadyrov repeatedly spoke against Titiev and all human rights activists, making the political motivation behind the conviction apparent. Despite sustained media attention, appeals from Russian cultural elites, politicians, and the international community, the court failed to make a just decision, thereby reinforcing the impunity that the Chechen authorities exercise to persecute critics.”
Oyub Titiev is a Chechen human rights activist and the head of Сhechnya’s branch of “Memorial,” one of the largest and oldest human rights groups in Russia. On January 9, 2018, he was arrested for allegedly possessing illegal drugs. After a more than a year-long exhibition trial, accompanied by public threats against human rights defenders from the head of the Chechen Republic, on March 18, 2019, Titiev was found guilty and sentenced to four years in a colony settlement, a softer sentence than requested by prosecution. To honor his courage and outstanding defense of human rights, in October 2018, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe awarded Titiev with the Václav Havel Human Rights Prize.
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.