Rights activist in Chechnya gets parole on drug sentence

Oyub Titiev

FILE – In this Monday, March 18, 2019 file photo, Oyub Titiev, the head of a Chechnya branch of the prominent human rights group Memorial, gestures while standing behind bars in court after a hearing in Shali, Russia. A court in Russia’s province of Chechnya has on Monday, June 10, 2019 ruled to grant early release to Titiyev, a prominent rights activist whose conviction has drawn an international outcry. (AP Photo/Musa Sadulayev, File)

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GROZNY, Russia (AP) — A court in the Russian province of Chechnya granted parole Monday to a prominent rights activist whose conviction drew an international outcry.

Oyub Titiyev, who led the Chechen office of prominent rights group Memorial, has been in custody since being arrested in January 2018 on a charge of possessing drugs. Titiyev, who denies the charges, received a four-year prison sentence in March.

On Monday, the Shali court ruled to let him out of prison on parole. Titiyev is set to leave prison in 10 days, according to his lawyer.

Titiyev played a major role in exposing extrajudicial killings, kidnappings and torture perpetrated by security forces in Chechnya.

International rights groups have denounced his arrest and demanded his release.

“If justice is to prevail, Oyub Titiev’s conviction should be quashed, and he must be given access to an effective remedy, including compensation, for his unlawful imprisonment,” said Marie Struthers, Amnesty International’s Director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia.

“We further call on the Russian authorities to ensure a safe and enabling environment for human rights defenders in Chechnya and elsewhere in Russia,” Struthers said in a statement.

She also urged Russian authorities to swiftly look into the recent apprehension of prominent Russian investigative journalist, Ivan Golunov.

According to his lawyer, Golunov was beaten and kept in custody for 12 hours without a lawyer after he was stopped by police in Moscow on Thursday.

Golunov was transferred to house arrest on Saturday, but he still faces drug dealing charges that he describes as bogus but which could see him face prison for up to 20 years.

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