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EU Lawmakers Demand Release Of Activist Jailed In Chechnya

Oyub Titiyev attends a court hearing in Grozny on January 25.
Oyub Titiyev attends a court hearing in Grozny on January 25.

BRUSSELS -- The European Parliament is calling for the “immediate release" of Oyub Titiyev, the jailed director of the prominent Russian human rights group Memorial's office in Chechnya.

Lawmakers in the European Union's parliament overwhelmingly passed a resolution on February 8 urging “the Russian authorities to ensure full respect for [Titiyev's] human and legal rights."

Those rights include "access to a lawyer and medical care, physical integrity and dignity, and protection from judicial harassment, criminalization, and arbitrary arrest," said the resolution.

It passed with support from all major political groups in the Strasbourg-based parliament.

Titiyev was arrested in Chechnya on January 9 by police who said they found marijuana in his car. He is being held on a drug possession charge. Titiyev says the drugs were planted.

Memorial has rejected the allegations against him, contending they were fabricated in an effort to run the respected rights organization out of Russia's North Caucasus.

Titiyev's case “is part of a worrying trend of arrests, attacks, intimidation, and discrediting of independent journalists and human rights defenders working in Chechnya," the European Parliament resolution said.

Separately in the text, the chamber also expressed deep concern over reports of the arbitrary detention and torture of people in Chechnya who are perceived to be gay.

It calls on EU institutions to assist those who have fled Chechnya and urges all the bloc's member states to “continue or step up asylum request procedures for victims, journalists, and human rights defenders.”

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