Participant of the rally in memory of Stanislav Markelov and Anastasia Baburova, Moscow, January 19, 2018. Photo by Oleg Krasnov for the Caucasian Knot.

20 January 2018, 02:12

Moscow marchers demand to stop persecuting rights defenders

The traditional annual march in memory of the lawyer Stanislav Markelov and journalist Anastasia Baburova, held in Moscow, attracted more participants than the organizers had expected. The posters that people carried included those demanding to stop repressing rights defenders, the "Caucasian Knot" correspondent reports.

The "Caucasian Knot" has reported earlier referring to the police that over 500 people took part in the march, held every year on the day Markelov and Baburova were assassinated.

Stanislav Markelov was shot dead on January 19, 2009, in Moscow after a press conference dedicated to the release from prison of Colonel Yuri Budanov, who had served his term on charges of killing the Chechen girl Elza Kungaeva. Anastasia Baburova, who accompanied the lawyer, was also killed.

One woman-marcher held a poster "Freedom to Oyub Titiev! Leave 'Memorial' alone!"

According to the woman, she is not a rights defender, and has no contacts with the Human Rights Centre [HRC "Memirial], and she has no relatives in Northern Caucasus; however, she closely follows the Titiev's story.

On January 11, the court ruled to place head of 'Memorial' Chechen office Oyub Titiev 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.

"Obviously, in Chechnya, they are cleansing last islands of freedom now... It's done so rudely and blatantly that... It hurts me how they deal with Titiev in Chechnya: he is persecuted in revenge for his good deeds, for his help to people," the woman said.

In her opinion, the arson of the "Memorial" office in Ingushetia and Oyub Titiev's persecution are links in one chain. "The goal is to squeeze rights defenders out of Northern Caucasus. Any civilized state would be ashamed to have such a leader like Ramzan Kadyrov," the woman said.

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.

Among the marchers, there was another man supporting Titiev. He carried his portrait without any inscriptions.

"The situation around Titiev is awful; and I'm obviously depressed, since it's clear that the persecution of the rights defender is anti-constitutional and illegal," the man said.

In his opinion, the arson of the "Memorial" office in Ingushetia was made by an order of persons close to the Chechen leadership.

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

Author: Oleg Krasnov; Source: CK correspondent

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