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Russia Urged To Release Chechen Activist As Prosecutor Seeks Four-Year Sentence

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Oyub Titiyev (left) in the defendant's cage in a Chechen court on March 11

Amnesty International has reiterated its call on Russian authorities to release Chechen human rights activist Oyub Titiyev, calling his trial on “fabricated” drug-possession charges “an affront to justice.”

The London-based watchdog made the call on March 11, as a court in Chechnya was due to start hearing the closing arguments in the case.

Titiyev's lawyer Ilya Novikov tweeted that prosecutor Milana Baitayeva asked the court in the town of Shali to sentence Titiyev to four years in prison.

The court was also asked to fine Titiyev 100,000 rubles ($1,500), according to Russia's Memorial human rights center.

In a statement, Amnesty International’s Russia researcher, Natalia Prilutskaya, said that there were “clear signs that, despite all the evidence in his favor, acquittal is not on the cards.”

“The repressive machine of the Russian criminal justice system is in full swing, and we have already seen enough in this case to know that the purpose of Oyub’s trial is not justice but revenge,” Prilutskaya said.

Titiyev, the director of Memorial's office in Chechnya, has been detained since January 2018 after police stopped him in his car and alleged that they discovered marijuana in the vehicle.

He and his colleagues contend that the drugs were planted and have described the case as part of an effort to push Memorial out of Chechnya -- which has been ruled for years by Kremlin-backed strongman Ramzan Kadyrov -- and other parts of Russia's North Caucasus.

The United States, several European Union member states, the European Parliament, and the Council of Europe’s human rights commissioner have condemned Titiyev’s arrest and voiced concern about the case.

With reporting by Mediazona
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