“A victory for Russian civil society, but not justice” 

Human rights defender Oyub Titiev has been granted parole at the same time as charges against Meduza-journalist Ivan Golunov have been dropped.

Oyub Titiev, leader of the Human Rights Center Memorial’s Grozny office, in Chechnya, was sentenced to four years in a penal settlement in March based on trumped up charges.

Background: Release Oyub Titiev 

“We have been demanding Titiev’s release since the news of his arrest in January last year and are proud to have supported his lawyers with means from the NHC Emergency Fund, says Bjørn Engesland, Secretary General of The Norwegian Helsinki Committee.  

Titiev’s case has been political motivated and the evidence fabricated. He should never have been arrested in the first place, but the parole is an important step in the right direction”, he continues.  

Bjørn Engesland, Secretary General of The Norwegian Helsinki Committee.

International campaign

Titiev’s parole is a result of the long-standing efforts of brave journalists, lawyers and human rights activists who has been campaigning for his release. 

Monday 10 June, Shali City Court in Chechnya ruled to free Titiev after serving one and a half years behind bars. The verdict will come to force in ten days.  

“Now the conviction should be fully withdrawn, and Titiev should be compensated for the burden of this unlawful imprisonment. The government also needs to take further steps to safeguard the work of human rights defenders in the region and Russia as a whole”, Engesland continues. 

Charges against journalist dropped

One day after, the news of Russian authorities dropping all charges against prominent journalist Ivan Golunov, broke out.  

“Dear friends, the case against Ivan Golunov is closed. This is the result of an unprecedented international solidarity campaign among both journalists and their allies. Together, we made the unbelievable happen: we stopped the criminal prosecution of an innocent man. Thank you!”, writes Meduza’ CEO and Editor-in-Chief, among othersin joint letter.  

Ivan Golunov was charged with and accused of illegal possession of drugs. Photo: Evgeny Feldman

On June 6, Ivan Golunov, the investigative journalist from Meduza was detained by Moscow police in Russia on suspicion of drug possession. He was denied the right to see an attorney, and the police also refused a request from Golunov himself to test his palms and fingernails for presence of narcotics.  

The government also needs to take further steps to safeguard the work of human rights defenders in the region and Russia as a whole.

Bjørn Engesland

While being detained in house arrest Golunov’s lawer informs that he was beaten by police. Doctor that inspected him later at the hospital confirmed that he might have suffered with broken ribs, concussion and haematoma.

The news of his arrest caused a major public outcry with three of the major newspapers in Russia, coordinating their front page with the text “We are Ivan Golunov.”

Golunov’s investigative work at Meduza covered allegations of corruption and important public interest issues. According to the chief editor of Meduza, Golonov received threats regarding a yet unpublished article.

“Unfortunately, there is nothing new about pressing drug charges against critical voices in Russia, and we are very happy to see how the independent media and civil society has been standing together, which resulted in Golunov’s release”, says Engesland and continues:

“We can not talk about justice until the people responsible for the arrest and bogus charges are held accountable. NHC is standing together with the Russian civil society, and demand rule of law, freedom of expression and human rights”.



Inna Sangadzhieva

Senior Adviser, Russia and BelarusEmail: [email protected]Phone: +47 97 69 94 58
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Bjørn Engesland

Senior AdviserEmail: [email protected]Phone: +47 95 75 33 50Twitter: @Bjorn1960
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