Belarus human rights defenders appeal to Putin over Chechen colleague’s case

Ales Byalyatski

Belarusian human rights activists are set to draw president Putin’s attention to the criminal prosecution of Oyub Titiyev, Head of Grozny office of the Russian NGO Memorial, and to the attack on the human rights movement in Chechnya.

Human rights defender and former political prisoner Ales Byalyatski handed over their appeal to the Russian Embassy on 7 February at the Russian Embassy in Belarus.

Oyub Titiyev, 60, faces up to 10 years in prison on drug possession charges that were allegedly trumped up by officials as revenge for his reports on rights abuses. The director at the Memorial Human Rights Centre in Chechnya, was arrested on January 9. Titiyev, who is currently in a remand prison, has been accused of illegal acquisition and storage of a big amount of drugs (Art. 228 of Russia’s Criminal Code).

In their joint appeal, representatives of Belarusian human rights organizations demand the immediate release of the colleague, as well as stopping the pressure on human rights defenders in Russia. According to them, the charges against Titiyev are absurdist.

“We are also calling on the Russian authorities to stand by their self-imposed international commitments in the field human rights, which include, among other things, the obligation to help citizens defending the rights of other persons and carrying out human rights work on their own or as part of a group,” the statement reads.

The appeal was signed by Ales Byalyatski, Raisa Mikhailovskaya, Aleh Aheyev, Tatsyana Ravyaka., following