Oyub denied release

Human rights defender Oyub Titiev stays in pre-trial detention despite personal guarantees from presidential candidates.

Today, the Staropromyslovskiy court in Groznyy prolonged his arrest until 9 May. The leading human rights defender in Chechnya was arrested 9 January charged with unlawful possession of drugs. Organisations all over the world have demanded immediate release of the head of the Human Rights Center Memorial’s Grozny office.


A range of profiled politicians, journalists and human rights defenders arrived from Moscow to show their support in court today.

– Their presence shows the court and Chechen authorities that what happens to Oyub will not remain a secret. Hopefully this will prevent further ill-treatment of him in detention, says Lene Wetteland at the NHC.

Titiev’s lawyers argued that future detention would not be necessary, and could be replaced by personal guarantees. The presidential candidate Kseniya Sobchak has already given such a guarantee, and presidential candidate from the Yabloko party Grigoriy Yavlinskiy vouched for Titiev during the hearing. This was not sufficient to convince the judge.

The famous human rights defenders Svetlana Gannushkina spent her 76nd birthday in the courtroom today. Director of the Memorial Hot Spots program Oleg Orlov was also present, along with former editor of Novaya Gazeta, Dmitry Muratov.

From left: Dmitry Muratov, Oleg Orlov, Grigoriy Yavlinskiy and Svetlana Gannushkina wait to enter the Staropromyslovskiy Court. Photo: Novaya Gazeta.

–The importance of high profile presence is also why we have argued that there should be international involvement in the case, and requested that Norwegian authorities take the lead in organizing an international visit to Chechnya, Wetteland says.

Norwegian authorities rejected this proposal, but have spoken out in support of Titiev on several occasions.


In wake of the arrest, the Memorial office in neighbouring Ingushetia was arsoned, the car used by his lawyer was arsoned as well. His family’s home was demolished along with those of 38 neighbours. Chechen authorities have violated the human rights of the republic’s citizens for decades without being punished or criticized by federal authorities.

Oyub Titiev keeps his spirits high despite the trumped-up charges. Photo: Novaya Gazeta.