The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) voiced deep concern after human rights activist Oyub Titiev was arrested yesterday morning on alleged drug charges.
Framing individuals with drug possession has become an increasingly common practice by Chechen authorities, when they need to discredit or silence critics of the current political establishment.
Oyub Titiev, the office director of the Memorial Human Rights Centre in the southern Russian republic, was arrested on Tuesday 9 January in the morning after police allegedly found marijuana wrapped in a plastic bag in his car. He was taken into custody and to Kurchaloi, a town 30 miles from the capital Grozny.
Titiev has received numerous death threats and censorship attempts during the last several years, mostly because of his criticism of Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov. Sources say his life and safety are now in jeopardy, especially given that institutions in the country often practice torture, disappearances and other forms of violence against human rights activists and critics of the regime. SEEMO calls on authorities to release Titiev and all other media workers, critics and human rights activists that are jailed under the same or similar charges in Chechnya.