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Grozny Police Search Memorial Office For Third Time This Week


Chechen rights activist Oyub Tititev has been detained on a drug charge that critics say is spurious. (file photo)

Russian human rights group Memorial, says police in Grozny have again searched organization's regional office in the city.

The January 19 police raid is the third such search of Memorial's Grozny office this week and comes days after the arrest of the group's regional head, Oyub Titiyev.

Oleg Orlov, a leading member of the Moscow-based right group, said that police claimed they had found two cigarettes and an ashtray made from an empty tin can during the search on January 19.

Orlov said no such items were in the office, adding police may use them to fabricate evidence against Titiyev, who was detained on what his supporters say were trumped up drug charges.

The Chechen police had already searched the premises twice this week, on January 16 and again on January 18, Memorial said in a statement.

Orlov, a representative of the Moscow office of the rights' group, has traveled to Chechnya due to Titiyev's arrest.

Titiyev was detained on January 9 by police who said they found marijuana in his car. Titiyev said the drugs were planted.

Memorial and other supporters also say the charge against Titiyev, 60, who colleagues say is a devout Muslim who does not drink or use drugs, was fabricated.

Western governments and international organizations have voiced concern about the case and called for Titiyev's release.

On January 11, the Shali District Court in Chechnya extended his detention until March 9.

On January 17, the Kremlin-backed leader of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov, rejected all criticism regarding the case.

Kadyrov called Titiyev a "drug addict" and branded all human rights defenders "people without kinship, ethnicity, and religion."

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