The Supreme Court of the Chechen Republic will hear an appeal on May 3 in the case of Oyub Titiyev, a prominent human rights defender who has spent nearly four months in detention on drug charges that associates say were fabricated.
Amnesty International on May 2 called on Russian authorities to "immediately and unconditionally" release Titiyev, who heads the Chechen office of Memorial, Russia’s leading human rights organization.
Denis Krivosheev, a deputy director at Amnesty, in a statement called Titiyev's continued detention and prosecution "an affront to justice, human rights, and the rule of law in Russia."
He said Titiyev, 60, for years "worked tirelessly to help victims of grave human rights abuses in Chechnya and beyond. Now he is paying with his own freedom for his work."
Titiyev was stopped in his car and detained by police on January 9. Chechen authorities later said that drugs had been found in his car.
Titiyev denied the allegations and he and Memorial insisted the bag of marijuana was planted.
The Shali City Court in Chechnya ordered Titiyev's pretrial detention on drug possession charges on January 11. He has remained in custody ever since. A district court in Grozny extended Titiyev’s detention for an additional month on April 25.
If convicted, Titiyev faces a maximum 10-year prison sentence.
Western governments have also voiced concern about Titiyev's case and called for his release.
In recent years, Memorial has been the target of multiple attacks. Shortly after Titiyev’s detention, the Memorial office in Nazran, Ingushetia, was burned down. The perpetrators have not been identified.
On March 28, Sirazhutdin Datsiyev, the head of Memorial’s office in Daghestan, was severely beaten by an unknown man. Memorial said the attack was "linked to his professional activity."