Oyub Titiev at the court. December 2018. Photo by Patimat Makhmudova for the "Caucasian Knot"

08 January 2019, 17:27

In 2018, rights defenders experienced aggressive persecution in Northern Caucasus

In 2018, the criminal prosecution of Oyub Titiev in Chechnya, the arson at the Human Rights Centre (HRC) "Memorial" office in Nazran, and the attack on Sirazhudin Datsiev in Makhachkala marked a new level of pressure on rights defenders in Northern Caucasus. However, the human rights offices in Ingushetia and Dagestan did not stop their activities, and a campaign was launched in defence of Oyub Titiev, which was joined by international organizations. Rights defenders expect that in 2019, attacks on the rights and freedoms of people will still take place, but social solidarity will grow.

The "Caucasian Knot" has reported that on January 9, 2018, Oyub Titiev, the head of the HRC "Memorial" office in Grozny, was detained, and on January 11, he was arrested on the charge of drug possession.

The criminal prosecution of Oyub Titiev had become "the defining event of 2018" for the HRC "Memorial", noted Sergey Davidis, the head of the political prisoners support programme.

According to him, the growth of international attention to Russian political prisoners can be considered as a result of 2018.

"The important role in the above was played by the hunger strike of Ukrainian film director Oleg Sentsov and the FIFA World Cup in Russia," said the rights defender.

According to Oleg Orlov, the head of the "Hot Spots" programme, the fact that Oyub Titiev avoided torture after his detention should be considered as the achievement of the rights defenders' activities.

He has also noted that the offices of the HRC "Memorial" did not stop their activities, despite the fact that the old office in Ingushetia had been burned down.

Among the successes of the rights defenders' activities in Northern Caucasus, Oleg Orlov has mentioned a guilty verdict for staff members of the Ingush Centre for Combating Extremism (CCE or "E" Centre) in a torture case and the OSCE report on human rights violations in Chechnya.

"In the first months of 2019, we plan to release a report on the situation in Chechnya, on the totalitarian nature of the Ramzan Kadyrov's regime," Oleg Orlov has added.

This article was originally published on the Russian page of 24/7 Internet agency ‘Caucasian Knot’ on January 8, 2019 at 05:41 am MSK. To access the full text of the article, click here.

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