Urgent Interventions

Ongoing judicial harassment and arbitrary detention of Mr. Oyub Titiev


RUS001 / 0118 / OBS 004.2

Judicialharassment /


Russian Federation

March 9, 2018

The Observatory for theProtection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of FIDH and the WorldOrganisation Against Torture (OMCT), has received new information and requestsyour urgent intervention in the following situation in the Russian Federation.

New information:

The Observatory hasbeen informed by reliable sources about the ongoing judicial harassment and arbitrarydetention of Mr. Oyub Titiev, Headof the Human Rights Center (HRC) "Memorial" office in Chechnya.

According to theinformation received, on March 6, 2018, the Staropromyslovsky District Court inGrozny rejected an appeal filed against the pre-trial detention order andextended Mr. Oyub Titiev’s pre-trial detention for another two months, untilMay 9, 2018, despite the fact that two guarantors pledged for a “personal vouch”[1].

Mr. Oyub Titiev isbeing prosecuted under Article 228 of theCriminal Code for allegedly possessing drugs in large amounts and is beingdetained at the pre-trial detention center in Grozny. If convicted, Mr.Oyub Titiev faces a maximum 10-year prison sentence.

The Observatory recallsthat Mr. Oyub Titiev was stopped in his car by police on January 9, 2018 andheld incommunicado for several hours. The Chechen authorities later stated thatdrugs had been “discovered” in his car. Mr. Oyub Titiev denied the allegationsand insisted the bag had been planted by police.

Moreover, theObservatory expresses its utmost concern over acts of harassment and reprisalstargeting Mr. Oyub Titiev’s relatives and lawyers. Indeed, Mr. Titiev’s familymembers were threatened by law enforcement authorities and consequently left Chechnyain late January 2018. Likewise, one of Mr. Titiev’s lawyers, Mr. Aslan Telkhigov, was allegedly forcedto resign from Mr. Titiev’s defence team and to leave Chechnya in late January2018. On January 22, 2018, HRC Memorial’s car, used by one of Mr. Titiev’slawyers, Mr. Petr Zaikin, was set onfire in neighbouring Dagestan. In addition, on February 5, 2018, Chechenauthorities ordered residents of several private houses, including Mr.Titiev’s, to leave their house within a week. Houses will be demolished tobuild a shopping center.

The Observatoryexpresses its utmost concern over the arbitrary detention and judicialharassment of Mr. Oyub Titiev. The harassment of his relatives and lawyers aswell as the arson of HRC "Memorial" premises in North Caucasus (seebackground information) clearly suggest that Mr. Oyub Titiev is beingprosecuted under trumped-up charges in a wider context of harassment againstHRC “Memorial” and its members linked to their work in North Caucasus and aimedat intimidating and silencing them.

The Observatory urges theRussian authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Mr. Oyub Titiev andto put an end to all acts of harassment against him, all HRC “Memorial” membersand human rights defenders in the North Caucasus.

In the meantime, theObservatory urges Russian authorities to uphold his right to a fair trial andto guarantee his physical and psychological integrity.

Background information:

In the morning of January 9, 2018, Mr.Oyub Titiev left his home inthe village of Kurchaloi, in the Chechen Republic, to head to a meetingwith a friend scheduled at 9am and subsequently to the office of HRC"Memorial" in Grozny. Mr. Titiev being more than one hour late forthe meeting with a friend whose identity is not being revealed on purpose, thelatter spotted Mr. Titiev on a road between the villages Kurchaloi and Mairtup,next to the bridge on the river Khumyk. Next to Mr. Titiev were five-sixtraffic police officers inspecting his car. Mr. Titiev gave his friend a signnot to approach him, and after the both cars left - that of Titiev and thesecond belonging to the traffic police - he headed to the Kurchaloi DistrictDepartment of Internal Affairs supposing Mr. Titiev would be taken there.Although he was not allowed to enter the District Department of InternalAffairs, Mr. Titiev's car present outside and unofficial sources allowed him toassume Mr. Titiev's detention.

Despite repeated calls,the District Department officially kept denying Mr. Titiev's presence. If Mr.Titiev’s detention was not officially confirmed by the authorities until seven hoursafter his detention when Vice-Minister of the Ministry of Interior of theChechen Republic Apti Alaudinov confirmed to the Russian Ombudsman TatianaMoskalkova that Mr. Titiev was being kept in Kurchaloi police station. Severalhours later, Mr. Titiev's lawyer confirmed that his client was charged underArticle 228 of the Criminal Code possessing drugs in large amounts.

On January 17, 2018, at3.35 am, the CCTV camera of the HRC “Memorial” office recorded two young men,wearing masks and gloves, one of whom was carrying a canister. The arsonistsput a ladder to the roof of the building and climbed to the second floor of theoffice. The attackers also attempted to break one of the CCTV video camerasinstalled on the building on their way to the window of HRC “Memorial”’soffice. The camera also recorded the rapid departure of the two arsonists.Fortunately, the two attackers could only access three of the six rooms. The firebrigade arrived quickly at the scene and extinguished the fire but not beforethree of the office’s six rooms were burnt, destroying electronic equipment anddocuments. The remains of a melted plastic bottle with the smell of kerosenewere found in the office of HRC “Memorial” Ingushetia office’s Head Mr. TimurAkiev.

Furthermore, on January15 and 16, 2018, Mr. Oleg Orlov, Chairman of HRC “Memorial” Council,lawyer Petr Zaikin and journalists who were in Chechnya to investigate the caseof Mr. Titiev were subjected to constant surveillance of local law-enforcementbodies. For two days, the group was detained five times allegedly forverification of their involvement with illegal armed groups.

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities of Russia,urging them to:

i. Take all necessarymeasures to guarantee the physical and psychological integrity and security ofMr. Oyub Titiev, the staff of HRC “Memorial” in Ingushetia and all human rightsdefender in in the Russian Federation;

ii. Release Mr. Oyub Titiev immediately and unconditionally, as hisdetention is arbitrary since it merely aims at sanctioning his legitimatehuman rights activities;

iii. Put an end to all acts of harassment, including at the judicial level,against him as well as all human rights defenders in the RussianFederation, including by putting an end to all forms ofsurveillance of their activities by local enforcement officials, and ensure in all circumstances that they are able to carry out their legitimate activities withoutany hindrance or fear of reprisals;

iv. Carry out an immediate, thorough and impartial investigation into thearson attack on the office of HRC “Memorial” in Ingushetia with a view topublishing the results and bringing those responsible to justice in accordancewith international standards;