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Jailed Rights Defender Titiyev Files Request For Early Release In Chechnya

Oyub Titiyev was sentenced to four years in a colony-settlement in March. (file photo)
Oyub Titiyev was sentenced to four years in a colony-settlement in March. (file photo)

Jailed Chechen human rights activist Oyub Titiyev has filed a request for early release, the Moscow-based rights group Memorial says.

Memorial said on May 21 that Titiyev's lawyer Pyotr Zaikin handed his client's request to the Shali City Court in Chechnya.

Titiyev, the head of Memorial's office in Chechnya, was arrested in January 2018 by police who claimed they found marijuana in his car -- an allegation he and Memorial say is unfounded and absurd.

In March of this year, the Shali court convicted the 61-year-old of illegal drug possession and sentenced him to four years in a colony-settlement, a penitentiary in which convicts live close to a facility where they work.

Titiyev, his lawyers, and supporters have rejected the charge as politically motivated, and contend that the drugs were planted in his car by police.

The trial was closely watched by Western governments concerned about the rule of law in Russia and by human rights groups that have denounced it as a farce.

Under Russian law, Titiyev can seek release on parole after serving at least one-third of his prison term. Counting the time he spent in pretrial detention, Titiyev reached that mark -- 16 months behind bars -- on May 9.

Activists contend that Chechnya's leader, Ramzan Kadyrov, who was appointed by President Vladimir Putin in 2007, has committed serious human rights abuses, including the widespread use of kidnapping, torture, and extrajudicial killings by forces under his power.

Kremlin critics say Putin has given him free rein because the Russian president relies on him to keep a lid on separatism following two devastating post-Soviet wars in Chechnya.

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