Arson attack on ‘Memorial’ Nazran office, January 17, 2018. Photo by the Caucasian Knot correspondent.

19 January 2018, 04:57

Rights defenders see relation between arson of "Memorial" office and Kadyrov's phrases

The statement voiced by the leader of Chechnya on the situation with the Oyub Titiev's detention and the arson of an office of the Human Rights Centre (HRC) "Memorial" in Ingushetia are links in one chain. This opinion was expressed by rights defenders interviewed by the "Caucasian Knot".

On January 17, the "Grozny" TV Channel showed a story about a meeting involving the chiefs of the Chechen law enforcement bodies and the National Guard of Russia. In the TV story, Ramzan Kadyrov did not mention Oyub Titiev directly, but he described a case of a man who was detained in the Kurchaloi District and called him "a drug addict." In his speech, the leader of Chechnya also called rights defenders "enemies of the people" and "corrupt persons." According to Ramzan Kadyrov, he is surprised that relatives of rights defenders do not stop them. He has added that "they should know that their activities will not pass in our republic."

The Ramzan Kadyrov's phrases about relatives of rights defenders can be perceived as a threat, believes Oleg Orlov, a member of the board for the HRC "Memorial".

"From the Ramzan Kadyrov's statements, it becomes clear that rights defenders are enemies, and they have become enemies not yesterday, but long time ago. Oyub Titiev is an 'enemy of the people,' and it is clear that his prosecution is of political nature. Ramzan Kadyrov has vividly confirmed what we have said earlier on the topic," Oleg Orlov told the "Caucasian Knot" correspondent.

On January 11, Oyub Titiev, head of HRC "Memorial" office in Chechnya, was put into custody for two months on charges of possessing marijuana. Titiev claims that the drug was planted on him by a law enforcer. He told his advocate that law enforcers had forced him into self-incrimination and threatened to bring criminal cases against his relatives on promoting terrorism.

The rights defender sees a correlation between the Ramzan Kadyrov's statement, the prosecution of Oyub Titiev and the arson of the HRC office in Ingushetia.

"All those events are links in one chain. All that is done and implemented within one big paradigm: rights defenders are enemies, and they must be destroyed. And very different actions may follow," concluded Oleg Orlov.

On January 17, a fire broke out in the office of the HRC "Memorial" in Nazran. According to records from a video surveillance camera, the office was set on fire by two unidentified people. The rights defenders treated the attack on the office as a terror act.

In Chechnya, there is an atmosphere of total hostility towards rights defenders, believes Ekaterina Sokiryanskaya, the director of the Conflict Analysis and Prevention Centre.

"The Ramzan Kadyrov's speech to law enforcers is clearly a direct threat to rights defenders. He directly calls rights defenders enemies of the people, and he says that there is no place for such people in the republic. He humiliates and insults our colleague Oyub Titiev by calling him a drug addict. All that creates an atmosphere in which any crimes against rights defenders will not only condemned, but will also be seen as a way to get distinguish oneself before their superiors. It should be noted that he delivered his speech to law enforcers," Ekaterina Sokiryanskaya told the "Caucasian Knot" correspondent.

Full text of the article is available on the Russian page of 24/7 Internet agency ‘Caucasian Knot’.

Author: Alikhan Mamsurov; Source: CK correspondent

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