Novaya Gazeta claims Chechnya arrested human rights activist as revenge for probe into execution of 27 in Grozny

Novaya Gazeta claims Chechnya arrested human rights activist as revenge for probe into execution of 27 in Grozny
Oyub Titiev Photo: Novaya Gazeta

The news outlet believes that it was because of the investigation that Ramzan Kadyrov was added to Magnitsky List and his social media accounts got blocked.

Elena Milashina, editor of Novaya Gazeta's special projects department, said that the detention of Oyub Titiev, the head of the Chechen office of the Memorial Human Rights Center was linked to his investigation of the mass execution of people detained on extremism charges in Grozny in January 2016.

The columnist wrote that the human rights activist had anticipated a likely detention, saying the drugs planted on him could lead to it. The journalist reported that Titiev was detained twice on January 9. The first time the traffic police stopped him, and while one of the policemen was checking his trunk, the other one hid a marijuana bag under the front seat. The human rights activist was then taken to Kurchaloevsky office of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, where they said he had to confess.

Titiev said he would never do that as drugs found without witnesses could not be considered the proof of his guilt. Then the police told the human rights activist that everything would go "in accordance with the law", gave him back his car keys and let him go, while an ununiformed policeman was in the car the whole time "keeping the evidence in his hands". Then Titiev was detained for the second time, already with witnesses.

Milashina writes that the attacks on the reputation of the Chechen leadership caused by the investigations fueled people’s discontent with their work. In December 2017, the Chechen parliament speaker Magomed Daudov said that if there were no death penalty moratorium in Russia, the "so-called human rights activist" would have to be punished: "Salam Aleykum and that’s it". After the statement, the social activists expected some firm actions by the authorities, and then Titiev’s detention followed.

Memorial and Novaya Gazeta had been investigating the execution of at least 27 people detained without trial on suspicion of extremism in Akhmad Kadyrov’s Regiment of Patrol and Guard Service. Ramzan Kadyrov was then added to the Magnitsky List for involvement in "extrajudicial killings, tortures and human rights violations."

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