Fabricated Criminal Case against Oyub Titiev and Attacks on Memorial Timeline

20.07.2018

Summary of main events

Fabricated Criminal Case against Oyub Titiev and Attacks on Memorial

Timeline

Oyub Titiev, born August 24, 1957, resident of Kurchaloi, a village in the Chechen Republic, is the Chechnya director at Memorial Human Rights Center. In custody since January 9 2018, Titiev has been indicted on charges of “illegal acquisition and storage of narcotic drugs on an especially large scale” (Article 228, Part 2 of the Russian Federation Criminal Code). Titiev is represented by three lawyers: Pyotr Zaikin, Ilya Novikov, and Marina Dubrovina.

Titiev has worked at Memorial and its sister organization, Civic Assistance Committee, since 2000, documenting human rights violations and carrying out a range of humanitarian projects, including support to schools in Chechnya’s mountain areas. Titiev is an observant Muslim and ardent adherent of living a healthy lifestyle. He neither drinks nor smokes. Before joining Memorial, Titiev worked as a physical education teacher and wrestling coach for children. After the murder of Natalia Estemirova, a leading Memorial representative in Chechnya, the organization suspended its work there for several months due to grave security concerns. Titiev persistently stressed the need for Memorial to resume work and continue helping victims of abuses. Despite the risks involved, he became the head of Memorial in Chechnya. Starting summer 2017, Titiev was closely involved in Memorial’s investigation concerning 27 Chechnya residents who been allegedly executed without trial by local security officialsTitiev verified relevant allegations, interviewed the victims' relatives, etc. His human rights work enraged the Chechen authorities.

At the end of December 2017, the Chechen parliament’s official website and various mass media outlets quoted a statement by the parliament’s speaker, Magomed Daudov, in which he linked US sanctions and the blocking of Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov’s social media accounts to the work of human rights defenders. In his statement, Daudov openly called for persecution of human rights defenders.

[For more detail in Russian, see, for example]

On January 9, 2018Titiev was detained by police. Titiev maintains that the narcotics had been planted by the detaining police officers.

Titiev’s detention included two episodes. The first episode began at around 9:05am, when Titiev’s car was stopped by police officers wearing Rapid response unit uniforms. The policemen had on their uniforms stripes with the Russian letters "ГБР" (GBR) which is a Russian abbreviation for the Rapid response unit.

Titiev had just left his home in the village of Kurchaloi and was heading in the direction of the village of Mairtup to pick up his friend - they were then supposed to go to Grozny together. The police officers “found” a bag in Titiev's car containing a substance resembling marijuana, which they clearly planted there themselves. They took Titiev in his own car to the Kurchaloi district police station (Titiev was brought to the station in his own car).  At the station, Titiev complained that his detention was illegal. The police officers said, "Want to have it all legal – we’ll do it all legal.” Then, they put Titiev back in his car and staged another detention, pretending to follow relevant procedures required by law. Titiev provided detailed information on both detentions at his remand court hearing in January and when interviewed by a representative of the Russian Federation Investigative Committee.

When Titiev failed to pick up his friend at the designated time, the friend drove in the direction of Kurchaloi and saw Titiev's car surrounded by police officials. The friend later received and informal confirmation that Titiev was being held at the Kurchaloi police station and contacted Titiev’s colleagues.

Memorial’s lawyer Sultan Tel'khigov immediately drove to Kurchaloi but the police denied having Titiev in custody and did not let the lawyer enter the premises.

Following telephone calls to Chechen authorities by Russian Ombudsman Tatyana Moskal'kova and Presidential Human Rights Council Chairman Mikhail Fedotov, Chechnya’s Ministry of Interior finally confirmed that Titiev was being held at the Kurchaloi police station on suspicion of a drug-related crime. The lawyer received access to his client at 7pm, six hours after his arrival at the station. In the absence of the lawyer, and in grave violation of due process, police officials took samples of cells on Titiev's skin and nails and carried out other investigative actions. Also, police officials put pressure on Titiev in an attempt to force a confession.

[For more detail in Russian, see, for example,

https://memohrc.org/ru/news_old/chechnya-oyub-titiev-dal-obyasnenie-sotrudniku-sledstvennogo-komiteta-ob-obstoyatelstvahhttps://memohrc.org/ru/news_old/chechnya-vchera-oyubu-titievu-predyavleno-obvinenie-v-nezakonnom-priobretenii-i-hraneniihttps://zona.media/article/2018/01/12/oyubhttps://memohrc.org/ru/defendants/titiev-oyub-salmanovich]

Late on the evening of January 9, 2018, a criminal case was opened against Titiev on large-scale drug trafficking charges and the Kurchaloi police were tasked with conducting the investigation.

On January 10, 2018, police officers arrived at Titiev's home in Kurchaloi. Titiev's wife and children were away, but the officers threatened Titiev’s female relatives who were in the house at the time of the unannounced raid. They demanded to see OyubTitiev's brother Yakub and son Bekhan, warning the women that the whole family would be in trouble in case of their failure to promptly show up at the police station. Oyub Titiev's wife and children chose to temporarily stay away from Chechnya for security reasons.

    [For more detail in Russian, see, for example,

https://memohrc.org/ru/news_old/chechnya-na-zaderzhannogo-pravozashchitnika-pytayutsya-vozdeystvovat-ugrozhaya-ego]

On January 11, 2018, the Shali District Court held a remand hearing on the case of Titiev and ruled to leave him in custody for two months (till March 9), pending trial. During the hearing, which was held behind closed doors, Titiev made a statement asserting his innocence and describing how the drugs had been planted by the police.

[For more detail in Russian, see, for example,

https://memohrc.org/ru/news_old/chechnya-vchera-oyubu-titievu-predyavleno-obvinenie-v-nezakonnom-priobretenii-i-hranenii;

https://memohrc.org/ru/news_old/chechnya-podrobnoe-izlozhenie-hoda-sudebnogo-zasedaniya-po-izbraniyu-mery-presecheniya]

On January 12, 2018, Titiev passed to his lawyer a letter to Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, the Chairperson of Russia’s Investigative Committee Alexander Bastrykin, and the Federal Security Service director Alexander Bortnikov. In the letter, Titiev explained that the Kurchaloi police officers had planted the drugs in order to fabricate a criminal case against him. Titiev emphasized his innocence: "I would like to specifically flag this. If later on, I confess to having committed the crime in question this could only signify that I was forced to make the confession as a result of torture or blackmail."

[For more detail in Russian, see, for example,

https://memohrc.org/ru/news_old/chechnya-zayavlenie-oyuba-titieva]

On January 17, 2018, Memorial Human Rights Center’s representative office in Ingushetia was set on fire. In the days leading up to the arson attack, Titiev’s lawyer and Memorial’s leading representatives had made several trips in the organization’s car from Ingushetia to Chechnya to work on Titiev’s case. During the trips, they experienced surveillance and harassment by security officials.

[For more detail in Russian, see, for example, https://memohrc.org/ru/news_old/podzhog-ofisa-pravozashchitnogo-centra-memorial-v-nazrani]

On January 17, 2018, the Chechen branch of Russia state television, Gronzy-TV, featured a segment on the evening news in which the head of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov, gave a speech in Chechen to officials from the Chechnya’s Ministry of Internal Affairs and the local division of Russian National Guard. In his speech, Kadyrov declared that independent human rights defenders are “enemies of the people” who engage in “snitching” and discredit their own people. He stated that there is no place for them in Chechnya and that their work “will not fly” [will not be tolerated] in the republic. He emphasized that human rights activities in Chechnya can be only carried out with the permission of the authorities and with his personal knowledge. Without using Titiev’s name, Kadyrov called him Titiev the “personal druggie” of the UN and the US State Department, who spoke out in his defense. In his televised broadcast, Kadyrov also openly called for extrajudicial reprisals.

[For more detail in Russian, see, for example, https://memohrc.org/ru/news_old/chechnya-v-syuzhete-na-chgtrk-groznyy-ramzan-kadyrov-dal-chetko-ponyat-za-chto-posadili#sdfootnote1sym]

On January 19, 2018, as part of the investigation into the criminal case against Titiev, police conducted a search of Memorial’s office in Grozny. During the search, police found on the floor of the balcony and officially seized a makeshift ashtray and two cigarettes appearing to contain not tobacco, but an unknown substance. Memorial staff stated that they had no ashtray on the balcony. The staff themselves do not smoke, and journalists who had visited the office in previously had gone onto the balcony to smoke without any ashtray. These items had been apparently planted before the search by way of one of the neighboring apartments’ balconies.

[For more detail in Russian, see, for example, https://memohrc.org/ru/monitorings/obysk-v-groznenskom-memoriale-v-protokole-izyatogo-policiey-pravozashchitniki]

On January 22, 2018, in the city of Makhachkala, Dagestan, unknown arsonists set on fire the car belonging to Memorial’s local office in Dagestan. Earlier that day, one of Titiev’s lawyers had used the car to travel from Makhachkala to Kurchaloi, Chechnya, to work on Titiev’s case.

[For more detail in Russian, see, for example, https://memohrc.org/ru/news_old/v-mahachkale-podozhgli-avtomobil-memoriala-na-kotorom-advokat-ezdil-v-chechnyu]

On January 23, 2018, the mobile telephone belonging to Memorial’s office in Dagestan received text messages ordering the team to shut down its operations under threat that the office would otherwise be burned along with the team members in it. The messages also said that the torched vehicle had served as a warning. Following the text messages, Memorial also received a phone call reiterating the threats.

[For more detail in Russian, see, for example, https://memohrc.org/ru/news_old/dagestan-sotrudnikam-memoriala-v-mahachkale-ugrozhayut]

On January 25, 2018, Chechnya’s Supreme Court rejected Titiev's appeal of the January 11 remand ruling.

On January 26, 2018, as part of the investigation into his case, Titiev was to be identified by a witness who had supposedly seen Titiev under the circumstances pertinent to the charges against him. The witness, however, failed to identify Titiev in the lineup. The police investigator duly noted the fact in the record signed by the witness himself, the observers (ponyatye), Titiev and his lawyer Zaikin.

The negative outcome clearly did not bode well for those behind the fabricated charges against Titiev. The next day, January 27, the investigators made an attempt to nullify the negative results of the witness identification procedure. They argued that the witness had succeeded in identifying Titiev but that the investigator in charge of the identification was incompetent and wrote the opposite in the record, of which Titiev and his lawyer took advantage. The investigator and the observers present at the lineup were then called as witnesses. When questioned in Titiev's presence, the former investigator and the observers denied their original statements reflected in the January 26 police record and claimed instead that the witness had succeeded in identifying Titiev. Titiev said that was a lie. On January 28, Titiev and the witness were interrogated and the witness stated again he had identified Titiev in the lineup on January 26.

There are strong grounds to believe that fabrication of evidence, which began when drugs were planted in Titiev's car by police, is continuing as part of the pre-trial investigation.

[For more detail in Russian, see, for example, https://memohrc.org/ru/news_old/lish-cherez-tri-nedeli-posle-aresta-oyubu-titievu-okazali-medicinskuyu-pomoshch]

Prior to Titiev's arrest, he had eight teeth extracted and two more partially removed as part of a complex orthodontic procedure. Without access to dental aid despite his numerous requests, Titiev could not drink hot liquids or eat solid food during the first three weeks of his arrest. The dentist was only allowed to see Titiev in the pre-trial detention center in Grozny and complete the treatment on January 30. We believe that the prolonged deprivation of medical treatment was a form of pressure on Titiev, resulting in pain and suffering, and amounted to torture.

On February 6, 2018, Titiev's lawyer Zaikin filed a complaint to the Shali City Court. In the complaint, Zaikin pointed lack of proper action on part of the investigators that, contrary to the law, failed to respond to his January 12 request to investigate Kurchaloi police station surveillance camera footage.

[For more detail in Russian, see, for example, https://memohrc.org/ru/news_old/chechnya-advokat-oyuba-titieva-prosit-sud-priznat-nezakonnym-bezdeystvie-sledovateley]

On February 7, 2018, Chechnya’s Deputy Prosecutor General discharged the Chechen police from the investigation against Titiev. Instead, the Russian Investigative Committee’s Chechen branch was put in charge of the investigation.

On February 15, 2018, an investigator of the Gudermes interdistrict unit of the investigative department of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation in the Chechen Republic rejected instigation of a criminal case into Oyub Titiev’s complaint about crimes committed by policemen who planted narcotics on him. The investigator concealed from Oyub Titiev and his lawyers  the fact that his complaint had been rejected and did not notify them, which violates criminal procedural law.

On February 16, investigation officers of the Gudermes interregional investigation department of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation for Chechnya, who conducted the verification of Oyub Titiev's complaint about illegal actions of police officers, told lawyer Petr Zaikin that they could not get recordings from CCTV cameras installed at the entrance of the Ministry of Internal Affairs in Kurchaloyevsky district and inside it. According to the investigation officer, all these cameras did not work from December 27, 2017 to January 12, 2018, as they were under repair.

[For more detail in Russian, see, for example,

https://memohrc.org/ru/news_old/chechnya-videokamery-v-kurchaloevskom-omvd-v-den-zaderzhaniya-oyuba-titieva-ne-rabotali]

Only on February 26, 2018 the lawyer managed to acquire a copy of the rejection statement. In its text the investigator asserted that OyubTitiev was guilty of illegal possession of drugs. The investigator thus violated the law and Constitution of the Russian Federation, which stipulate that only court decision can determine guilt. The investigator did not attempt to verify the arguments presented by Oyub Titiev but justified his statement by explanations of persons whom Oyub Titiev named as perpetrators of crime against him or their accomplices. Titiev’s lawyers learned that the statement on rejection of instigation of a criminal case was overturned February 16, 2018.

[For more detail in Russian, see, for example,

https://memohrc.org/ru/news_old/chechnya-sabotazh-proverki-po-zayavleniyu-oyuba-titieva-o-prestuplenii]

On March 6, 2018, despite written statements by two candidates running for Presidency of the Russian Federation, Grigory Yavlinsky and Kseniya Sobchak, declaring their personal vouch for Oyub Titiev, the Staropromyslovsky Court of Grozny refused to change his measure of restraint and extended arrest for two months till 9 May 2018.

[For more detail in Russian, see, for example,

https://memohrc.org/ru/news_old/chechnya-sud-ostavil-oyuba-titieva-pod-strazhey-do-9-maya]

On March 19, the appeal of Oyub Titiev’s lawyers on the extension of the term of arrest was rejected by the court.

[For more detail in Russian, see, for example,

https://memohrc.org/ru/news_old/chechnya-apellyacionnaya-zhaloba-na-opredelennuyu-oyubu-titievu-meru-presecheniya-otklonena]

On March 20, lawyer Petr Zaikin, within the framework of the criminal case, filed a motion for an investigative experiment to verify the data obtained as a result of interrogation of the policeman about the circumstances of the inspection of Oyub Tititev’s car on the Kurchaloy-Mayrtup highway. According to the lawyer's assessment, this policeman could not see the "scattered substance of green color" and "a black plastic bag" upon the occurrence of the said circumstances.

The motion was granted by an investigation officer. However, the investigative experiment was conducted without Oyub Titiev’s participation and his defenders in late April.

On March 23 and April 5, lawyer Zaikin, within the framework of the criminal case and within the framework of the verification of Oyub Titiev's complaint about a crime committed against him by the police, declared a series of motions for computer-technical examination of the computers of the police department in the Kurchaloy district (where they brought Oyub Titiev on January 9). The computers had to store video recordings of video surveillance outside and inside the building of the police department. The examination would have to establish whether or not the equipment was actually repaired. The lawyer also made a motion for a request for an official documentation on the repair of these video recording facilities.

Investigation officers, as part of the criminal case, and within the framework of the verification of Titiev's complaint about throwing him drugs by police officers, denied these motions.

On March 28, an unknown person attacked Sirazhutdin Datsiyev, head of the Memorial Human Rights Center in Makhachkala (the Republic of Dagestan).

Around 9.30 a.m. Sirazhutdin Datsiyev left his house to go to work. A "Lada Priora" with darkened windows was parked near his house. As he passed by the car, he heard footsteps approaching from behind, and then he was hit hard on the head with an unknown object. He fell, and fainted. A witness later told Sirazhutdin Datsiyev that a man jumped out of the "Lada Priora", caught up with him, hit him on the head, then ran to the car, got into it and left.

The ambulance team hospitalized Datsiyev in the neurosurgical department of the Republican Clinical Hospital. The police are working at the scene.

On April 25, the Staropromyslovsky District Court of Grozny extended the preventive measure against Oyub Titiev for one month, until June 9, 2018. Oyub Titieva's lawyers were not informed in advance of the date of this meeting. The fact that the meeting was scheduled for 15:00 on April 25 became known only the morning of the same day when the lawyer Marina Dubrovina on her own initiative called the court. At a press conference held on that day in Moscow, lawyers Petr Zaikin and Ilya Novikov reported that the investigator, knowing in advance about their upcoming trip to Moscow, assured them that no actions would be expected in the Titiev case in the next few days.

[For more detailed information, please see in Russian https://memohrc.org/ru/video/press-konferenciya-falsifikaciya-dela-protiv-oyuba-titieva]

Lawyer Marina Dubrovina was able to come to court for the defense of Oyub Titiev.

The argument of the court that was particularly cynical was that Oyub Titiev could escape from the preliminary investigation body and the court, engage in criminal activities, threaten witnesses, destroy evidence, or otherwise interfere with criminal proceedings, because "members of the family of the accused Tititev are located outside the Chechen Republic and at the place of Titiev’s registration there is no home ownership". It is necessary to mention that “home ownership” is absent at the place of his registration only because it was included in the number of houses whose residents were banished without any legal basis, and the houses themselves were slated for demolition by Chechen authorities.

[For more detailed information, please, see in Russian https://memohrc.org/ru/news_old/chechnya-dom-oyuba-titieva-snosyat-v-chisle-prochih-37-domov-v-centre-kurchaloya]

On May 3 and 4, the Supreme Court of the Chechen Republic considered an appeal against the decision of the Staropromyslovskiy District Court of Grozny to extend the arrest of Oyuba Titiyeva. [For more detailed information, please see in Russian https://memohrc.org/ru/news_old/chechnya-apellyaciya-na-arest-oyuba-titieva-vnov-otklonena]

Despite the guarantees for Titiev from Svetlana Gannushkina, the chairman of the Civic Assistance Committee, Chevalier of the Order of the Legion of Honor, and Sergei Nefedov, a test pilot, Hero of Russia, the court left Titiev in custody until June 9.

On May 4, the end of the preliminary investigation was announced; on May 8, Oyub Titiev and his lawyers started to get acquainted with the materials of the criminal case.

On May 14, a letter was sent to the Russian President Vladimir Putin about the case of the head of Grozny's Memorial office, Oyub Titiev, signed by well-known people in Russia and in the world - artists and scientists, journalists and clergymen. The letter was signed by 60 people.

They drew Putin's attention to the falsification of the criminal case against Oyub Titiev: "The cynical use of the legal system to carry out this action of intimidation of all human rights defenders and people of goodwill, seeking the rule of law and respect for human rights in the Chechen Republic of the Russian Federation, provokes extreme indignation. We appeal to you, as a guarantor of the Russian Constitution, to ensure the immediate transfer of Titiev’s case to the federal level, take this case to control and put an end to the persecution of Memorial”.

On May 16, Oyub Titiev and his lawyers examined the materials of the case and the exhibits attached to it, in particular Oyub’s car. It turned out that a number of items that Oyub Titiev had during his detention on January 9 disappeared.

On May 24, The Staropromyslovsky District Court of Grozny recognized as lawful the refusal to open a criminal case on Oyub Titiev's application regarding the planting of drugs on him. The judge stressed that the court did not assess the materials of the substantive examination, but only assessed their compliance with procedural norms and did not find any violations. However, Titiev’s lawyer was filing a complaint specifically on procedural violations. In particular, a number of motions to carry out certain verifications were accepted, but not conducted.

[For more detailed information, please, see in Russian https://memohrc.org/ru/news_old/chechnya-sud-priznal-zakonnym-otkaz-vozbudit-ugolovnoe-delo-po-zayavleniyu-oyuba-titieva]

On May 31, The Staropromyslovsky District Court of Grozny extended Oyub Titiev’s detention for another two months, until July 9. His lawyers were informed about the time of the court session the night before and therefore, neither the press nor the public could make it to the court proceedings.

[For more detailed information, please, see in Russian https://memohrc.org/ru/news_old/chechnya-sud-prodlil-oyubu-titievu-soderzhanie-pod-strazhey-do-9-iyulya]

On June 1, Oyub Titiev and his lawyers completed their review of the case materials. As a result of their review, they announced a number of motions.

Oyub Titiev applied for information on the prosecution’s witness, Amadi Baskhanov, who at first could not identify him and signed the due protocol, but then denounced his original statement and testified that he had indeed seen Oyub smoking marijuana, and that the investigator had incorrectly drawn up the protocol. The review of the case materials revealed that Baskhanov was previously convicted, including for illegal drug trafficking. Titiev requested information about these criminal cases, as well as criminal cases in which Baskhanov was involved as a witness.

Lawyer Petr Zaikin once again filed a petition for the examination of the computers of the police department in the Kurchaloevsky district by technical, computer specialists.

Lawyer Marina Dubrovina made two motions. In the first, she called to quash the criminal case against Titiev based on the lack of an act of crime in his actions. She flagged that the investigation did not extract indisputable evidence of his guilt and that the case file did not reflect the fact of the first detention of Titiev, which allowed for the subsequent falsification of evidence of his alleged involvement in the crime.

In the second motion, Dubrovina applied for information about witnesses who participated in several investigations on the day of Titiev's arrest.

All these motions were rejected by the investigative team.

[For more detailed information, please, see in Russian https://memohrc.org/ru/news_old/oyub-titiev-i-ego-advokaty-zavershili-oznakomlenie-s-materialami-ugolovnogo-delahttps://memohrc.org/ru/news_old/sledstvie-otkazyvaetsya-predostavit-oyubu-titievu-svedeniya-ob-ugolovnom-proshlom]

On June 20,  the Council on Civil Society and Human Rights of the President of the Russian Federation published an advisory expert opinion that stated that the procedural review by the Investigation Department of the Criminal Investigation Committee of the Russian Federation in the Chechen Republic in regards to Oyub Titiev’s application regarding the planting of drugs on him, was not only carried out with violations of the law, but also incompletely, ineffectively, and deliberately not checking circumstances. These circumstances would have inevitably pointed to falsification of the case against Titiev. Likewise, the decision to refuse to open a criminal case, based on the results of this review, was unfounded. The Council sent this report to the General Prosecutor's Office of the Russian Federation for consideration and for a prosecutor's response. The Prosecutor General's Office of the Russian Federation tasked the prosecutor of the Chechen Republic to check the circumstances of the investigation of case of Oyub Titiev.

[For more detailed information, please, see in Russian https://memohrc.org/ru/news_old/covet-pri-prezidente-rf-po-pravam-cheloveka-sledovateli-ne-proverili-nadlezhashchim-obrazomhttps://memohrc.org/ru/news_old/geprokuratura-poruchila-provesti-proverku-po-delu-titieva-posle-obrashcheniya-spch]

On June 25 and 26 proceedings considering the appeals from Titiev’s lawyers on the refusal to instigate a criminal case into Titiev’s statement regarding police officers’ planting drugs on him and the appeal against his subsequent extended detention were held in the Supreme Court of the Chechen Republic. The court ignored the arguments of the advisory expert opinion of the Council on Civil Society of the President of the Russian Federation and refused to include the opinion in the case materials. The prosecutor claimed that the materials that point to Titiev's guilt were obtained during the interrogation of officials. Titiev’s lawyer objected, that this was clearly not enough, and the interrogated were biased as they were the ones being accused of these unlawful acts. The court refused to accept the appeal.

While appealing for the extension of the arrest, the lawyer stated that, in addition to the report of the officer in charge, during the entire time of Titiev's detention the investigation had not provided any evidence that Titiev could abscond, or exert pressure on witnesses, etc. Titiev could not prevent the investigation, since it had been completed. But the court also refused to agree with the lawyer's complaint.

[For more detailed information, please, see in Russian https://memohrc.org/ru/news_old/chechnya-sudya-otklonila-apellyacionnye-zhaloby-advokatov-oyuba-titievahttps://memohrc.org/ru/news_old/chechnya-sud-proignoriroval-dovody-soveta-po-pravam-cheloveka-pri-prezidente-rf-o]

On July 5, the Supreme Court of the Chechen Republic considered the petition of Titiev’s lawyer, Ilya Novikov, to hear the case of Oyub Titiev outside Chechnya. The lawyer justified the petition by the fact that due to the pressure that the representatives of the executive authorities of Chechnya had already put on the court, the decision in Titiev’s case would be biased, and therefore, unjust. Novikov pointed out that Ramzan Kadyrov had repeatedly made public statements about the guilt of the accused, and of Titiev’s personality (https://dailystorm.ru/vlast/my-ne-huligany-kotorye-vernulis-my-dostoynye-grazhdane-tak -chto-ne-pytaytes-izbavitsya-ot-nas; https://chechnyatoday.com/news/315238 etc.).

The court refused to transfer the proceedings to another Russian region. In addition, at the request of the prosecutor, the court extended the detention of Oyub Titiev until 25 July.

[For more detailed information, please, see in Russian

https://memohrc.org/ru/news_old/chechnya-sud-otkazal-v-peredache-dela-oba-titieva-dlya-rassmotreniya-za-predely-respubliki]

Lawyer Novikov submitted petition to the Supreme Court of Russia asking to change the territorial jurisdiction of Oyub Titiev’s case and process it outside Chechnya.

On July 9, the Shali City Court held a closed preliminary hearing of Oyub Titiev’s case on possession of drugs. Titiev’s lawyers requested to recuse the judge, which was rejected. The court ruled to extend the arrest of Oyub Titiev for another six months - until December 22, 2018.

[For more detailed information, please, see in Russian

https://memohrc.org/ru/news_old/chechnya-slushanie-dela-oyuba-titieva-naznacheno-na-18-iyulya]

On July 10, HRC "Memorial" lawyers submitted Oyub Titiev’s complaint to the European Court of Human Rights on violation of articles 5 (right to liberty and security of the person) and 18 (prohibition of politically motivated criminal prosecution) of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.

[For more detailed information, please, see in Russian

https://memohrc.org/ru/monitorings/delo-oyuba-titieva-sleduet-iz-chechni-v-strasburg]

On July 19, the Shali City Court started hearing of the criminal case of Oyub Titiyev charged with possession of drugs.

Nine court hearings took place between 19 July and 28 August as part of Oyub Titiev’s trial at the Shali Court. 51 witnesses for prosecution were interrogated, most of them were police officers from Kurchaloyevsky District Police Department of the Chechen Republic.

Only some of them participated directly in Titiyev’s detainment and the fabrication of the criminal case against him. In their testimonies, inconsistencies are evident. For instance, they provided inconsistent information on witnesses present during the search of Titiyev’s car and his detention. Their testimonies made it impossible to determine who exactly found and delivered the search witnesses to the incident venue. The whereabouts of Titiyev’s personal items (mobile phones, tablet, traumatic pistol, etc.) and, most importantly, his identification documents, which were with him at his first detention, could not be determined. However, it became evident that none of the police officers questioned in court saw his passport during his second, official detention. Under the circumstances, it is unclear how the police officers verified the identity of the detainee. Titiyev’s passport was, most probably, left at the police department during his first detention, while during the staging of his second detention Titiyev was “arrested” without any identification documents. The mobile phones, the tablet, and the traumatic pistol vanished. The police officer, who first “saw” some drugs scattered on the car floor, was unable to explain how he managed to get a glimpse of that particular spot through the half-open door of the vehicle and Titiyev’s back. These and many other discrepancies in the official version have been revealed in court.

The rest of the witnesses answered «don’t know», «didn’t see», «don’t remember» and/or «ask the superiors» to most of the questions by Titiev’s defense counsels.

Almost all the witnesses questioned by the defense stated that they were not aware of the existence of «Rapid response unit» of the Chechnya police force, and that neither them nor their colleagues ever wore uniforms with the Russian letters "ГБР" (GBR) which is a Russian abbreviation for the Rapid response unit. They not saw police vehicles with "ГБР" (GBR) signs.

Only one of them stated that he had that kind of a uniform, which he only wore at home, except on one occasion in 2017 when he had worn on his superior’s explicit orders. Such statements don’t bode well with the existence of several web pages in public domain belonging to local police officers, including some those questioned, which are full of photos of those officers and their colleagues dressed in GBR uniform and patrolling the streets in cars with GBR signs.

When the witnesses for prosecution deny the existence of «Rapid response unit» at the Kurchaloyevsky Police Department, they do so in an attempt to refute Titiyev’s testimony about having been first detained by police officers in green uniforms with the Russian letters "ГБР" (GBR) which is a Russian abbreviation for the Rapid response unit. They planted drugs in his car.

On August 22, 2018, at a meeting with Chechnya’s Ministry of Internal Affairs personnel, Kadyrov announced that human rights defenders would be denied access to Chechnya once Titiev’s trial is over, no matter what the international community thinks or does. During his speech, he once again called Titiyev a drug addict and equated human rights defenders with terrorists and extremists.

For more information, please see: https://www.hrw.org/news/2018/08/28/open-letter-human-rights-watch-amnesty-international-and-front-line-defenders

Investigative authorities have not taken any effective measures to identify the perpetrators of arson of Memorialoffice in Ingushetia and arson of a car belonging to representative office of Memorial in Dagestan. Investigative authorities abstain from giving legal evaluation of public statements by Magomed Daudov and Ramzan Kadyrov about human rights defenders.

In recent years, Memorial has remained as the last independent human rights organization in Chechnya. There are grounds to believe that the attacks on the human rights defenders in Chechnya, including the fabricated criminal case against Titiev and the arson attacks in neighboring republics, have been orchestrated in retaliation for Memorial exposing human rights violations and seeking justice for victims in Chechnya. It is possible that in the opinion of those who orchestrated these attacks, Memorial’s work contributed to the initiation of US sanctions against Ramzan Kadyrov and to the blocking of his social media accounts.

Memorial Human Rights Center would appreciate support from international organizations and public figures with the objective of ensuring Titiev’s release and putting an end to his unfounded prosecution. Memorial also calls on international actors and public figures to condemn attacks on human rights defenders by Chechen authorities, and to urge Moscow to put an end to these lawless attacks and foster a normal working climate for human rights defenders in Chechnya.

On September 6th and 13th the Shali City Court continued the hearings in the criminal case of Oyub Titiyev on charges of drug possession.  On September 6th two witnesses for prosecution were interrogated: executive director of a local non-governmental group Sozidaniye and the former head of Memorial’s Gudermes office, Liliya Yussupova, and Titiyev’s neighbor Aslambek Gabaev. Both provided a positive assessment of Oyub’s character. 

After the hearing, Oyub was given a letter stating that he was shortlisted along with two other prominent activists for the prestigious international Vaclav Havel prize for outstanding civil society action in the defense of human rights. 

On September 13th three other witnesses for prosecution were interrogated, including Amadi Baskhanov, whose testimony appeared remarkably fascinating. As we reported earlier, Baskhanov, who himself has criminal record, including for illegal drug trafficking, is the only witness claiming to have seen Oyub smoking marijuana in the middle of the day in the Grozny. During the preliminary investigation, the “witness” failed to identify Oyub Titiev and the investigators had to alter the results of the identification in violation of the law. 

A three and a half hour long interrogation of Baskhanov revealed many contradictions in his testimony.  

Also, his behavior suggested he was under influence of strong drugs while on witness stand. He complained about feeling sick; his speech was loud and overly emotional; he waived his hands, repetitively rubbed his face and scratched his head; his pupils were dilated. 

According to the defense, a certain agreement had been made between Baskhanov and the authoritiesThis assumption is confirmed by the fact that the witness twice gave comments on the local government-controlled TV station in smear shows about Oyub and Memorial.

For more information, please see: 1st hearing2nd3rd4th; 5th; 6th; 7th; 8th; 9th; 10th; 11th)

Программа: Горячие точки
Программа: Поддержка политзеков

Титиев Оюб Салманович родился 24 августа 1957 года, живёт в селе Курчалой Чеченской Республики, правозащитник, руководитель грозненского представительства Правозащитного центра (ПЦ) «Мемориал».