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Russian NGO Memorial's Car Torched In Daghestan


The group's lawyer had used the car to travel to neighboring Chechnya, where the head of its local office is in jail on suspicion of drug possession.

The Russian human rights group Memorial says unknown attackers have torched one of its cars in the North Caucasus region of Daghestan in the latest assault on the activists.

The Moscow-based right group said the "arson attack" occurred late on January 22 in the regional capital, Makhachkala, adding that it was part of a "terror" campaign to chase it out of the North Caucasus.

Memorial, which is documenting abuses in the region despite years of pressure, said in a January 23 statement that the driver of the Volga car received a phone call from a neighbor who informed him that the vehicle was on fire.

The driver and his neighbors managed to extinguish the fire and found a gasoline canister next to the car.

Oleg Orlov, a leading member of Memorial, said that the group's lawyer had used the car to travel to neighboring Chechnya, where the head of its local office is in jail on suspicion of drug possession.

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

Police in Chechnya have searched Memorial's regional office in Grozny three times since Titiyev's arrest. Orlov said that police claimed that they found "suspicious" cigarettes and an ashtray made from an empty tin can during the search on January 19.

And on January 17, Memorial said its office in Nazran, Ingushetia's largest city, had been torched in a "terrorist" attack.

Orlov described the recent attacks targeting his group in Chechnya, Ingushetia, and Daghestan as "parts of the same chain," adding that the organizers of the attacks "must be sought in the Chechen Republic."

"What is being organized against Memorial is intimidation, menacing, in other words, it is terror," he added.

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

But the Kremlin-backed leader of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov, called Titiyev a "drug addict" and branded all human rights defenders "people without kinship, ethnicity, and religion."

On January 11, the Shali district court in Chechnya extended the activist's detention until March 9.

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