The Council of Europe honors Chechen “Memorial”-the chief Ojub Titijew

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The Russian human rights activists because of alleged illegal drug possession in custody. A politically motivated process, observers say. Titjew receives this year’s Vaclav Havel prize of the Council of Europe.

Ojub Titijew

The 2013-created human rights award, named after the former Czech President and dissident, goes this year to Chechnya. Was awarded Ojub Titijew, head of the representation of the renowned human rights organization “Memorial” in the Russian Republic in the North Caucasus. Titijew bar in Chechnya, an important work in defence of human rights, stressed the President of the Assembly, Liliane Maury Pasquier, at the award ceremony in Strasbourg. The EUR 60,000 award was accepted by a Deputy.

Doubts as to the independence of the Chechen justice

The news of the award reached the 61-year-old Titijew in custody. Him of illicit drugs is accused of possession. Titijew was on my way to Meet him at the beginning of January a police patrol outside the Chechen capital of Grozny stopped. According to police reports, they found during the search of his car approximately 200 grams of marijuana. Titijew denies the allegations. The police had him planted the drugs, he says. In July, the trial against him began.

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Alexander Cherkasov, Titijews colleague at Memorial, observed the hearing: “We see dozens of witnesses, which are repeated one after the other rehearsed lies. You can see how unpleasant this is. Or you invent delighted own lies – what will replace the truth in this process,” said Cherkasov, in a DW Interview.

There are doubts as to the independence of the judiciary in Chechnya, have written dozens of Russian cultural figures, journalists and human rights activists in a letter to President Vladimir Putin. In it, she requested to have the process against Titijew in a different Region of Russia to take place. But this appeal remained without consequences. In the case of a conviction of up to ten years of imprisonment threatens the human rights activists.

Last human rights NGOs in Chechnya

Titijew had taken over the leadership of the Chechen “Memorial”offices in 2009, after his predecessor, Natalia Estemirova had been murdered. Again and again the precarious human rights situation in Chechnya and abroad for headlines, for example, reports on the persecution and murder of Homosexuals in the year 2017.

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“Memorial” is the last of the influential people’s rights organization, which is in the North Caucasus Republic, in spite of growing pressure. Another NGO, the Committee against torture, drove back in 2015 after repeated attacks and an arson attack on their office work in Chechnya.

After the murder of Estemirova Titijew was especially careful. He collected and systematized reports of abductions, torture, illegal arrests and killings in Chechnya, which is not published, however, under his own name. The people gave law the opportunity to do their own research and to help people learning and to journalists in Moscow.

Policy-driven process?

About the possible true nature of Titijews arrest is a mystery. It means that all human rights were the powerful Chechen leader Ramsam Kadyrov, a thorn in the eye. Titijews lawyer Ilya Novikov is convinced that the arrest Titijews is politically motivated. “It is obvious that Kadyrov – has also not given if he, perhaps, even the command [Titijew drug in pocket, note. d. Red.] at least, the actions of the police approves of,” says Novikov in an interview with DW.

Kadyrov himself is denying any influence.