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Rights Groups Condemn Sentencing Of Former Chechen Politician

Human rights watchdogs have slammed authorities in Russia's Chechen Republic for sentencing a former Chechen politician, Ruslan Kutayev, to four years in jail.

Kutayev was found guilty of illegal drugs possession and sentenced on July 7.

He was arrested in February, two days after holding an event marking the 70th anniversary of the Chechen deportation to Kazakhstan.

Kutayev is the leader of the Assembly of Peoples of the Caucasus, a nongovernmental organization aiming to unite ethnic groups across the North Caucasus.

The Moscow-based Memorial human rights center has designated Kutayev as a political prisoner on the grounds that the charge against him was fabricated.

In a statement issued on July 7, the president of Freedom House, David J.Kramer, called Kutayev’s sentence "a political retribution."

Kramer urged Chechen authorities to immediately release Kutayev.