“Shut up!”: Dagestani Memorial office employees receive threats after their car set on fire 

“Shut up!”: Dagestani Memorial office employees receive threats after their car set on fire
One of the messages Photo: Novaya Gazeta

Employees of the human rights center have received several threatening SMS messages and phone calls from unknown.

A representative of Memorial human rights center in Makhachkala, whose car had been set on fire yesterday night, has received several SMS messages and calls with threats. This is reported on the organization’s website.

Three messages saying “Shut up! Next time we’ll set your office on fire. The car is a warning” came at around 13:40 on January 23. A few minutes later, an unknown person called from the same number and said “Read the SMS! Next time... next time...,” and then the line went dead. 

In the evening of January 22, a car belonging to Memorial’s Head of the Goryachie Tochiki (Hot Spots) program Oleg Orlov was set on fire by unknown. He parked his car near his house. At around 22:00, his neighbor told him the car was on fire. Firefighters helped the driver to stop the fire. An incendiary bottle was found beside the car.

Threatening SMS messages

Threatening SMS messages. Photo by Novaya Gazeta

Memorial human rights center links the arson and threats to the prosecution of Head of the organization’s Chechen office Oyub Titiev. January 20, a lawyer in charge of Titiev’s case (who had been arrested for Drug Possession under part 2 of Art. 228 of the Russian Criminal Code) used the same car to travel to the Chechen village of Kurchaloy.

During the night of January 17, unknown masked men set Memorial’s office in Nazran, Ingushetia, on fire. Empty incendiary bottles were also found in the premises. Later, police officers came to search the office. They entered cigarettes and an ashtray, which had not been there before, into the search record. Human rights activists fear that this may be related to Titiev’s criminal case.

Oyub Titiev was detained in Chechnya on January 9. According to the rights defendant, the police had planted a bag of marijuana in his car. The Shali City Court has placed Titiev under arrest for two months. International NGOs demand the release of the human rights defender and fair investigation into his case. Head of Chechnya Ramzan Kadyrov called Titiev a stoner and said that human rights organizations would not be able to work in the republic.

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