On October 15 and 16, the Shalinsky City Court continued to question defense witnesses.
Proceedings were postponed until around November 5 — after Mr. Titiev’s claim that his possessions were lost following his arrest is verified.
Recall that the head of the Grozny office of the Memorial Human Rights Center, Oyub Titiyev, was detained on January 9, 2018 in Chechnya, due to the fact that the police allegedly found marijuana in his car. A criminal case was opened against Titiev under Part 2 of Art. 228 of the Criminal Code. He pleads not guilty. Memorial claims that the criminal case against him has been falsified. Oyub is recognized as a political prisoner.
Madina Zaynetdinova is serving as the judge. Peter Zaikin, Marina Dubrovina and Ilya Novikov represented Titiev on the defense team. The prosecution is supported by the prosecutor of the Kurchaloevsky district Dzhabrail Akhmatov and a representative of the Republic’s prosecutor’s office, Milana Baitayeva.
Proceedings were held on October 15 and 16, Oleg Orlov, the head of the «Hot Spots» program at Memorial, Sirazhutdin Datsiev, the head of the organization in Dagestan, and Timur Akiev, the head of the Ingush Representative Office, attended the proceedings.
Proceeding participants talked about a series of attacks on Memorial at the beginning of the year: the arrest of Oyub, the arson of the office in Nazran, the arson of the car of the Makhachkala’s driver of the organization, the threats to Grozny’s lawyer Sultan Telkhigov. All of these attacks, according to witnesses, are interrelated.
The judge and state prosecutors tried by any means possible to prevent the defense from reporting that Oyub was persecuted for his active human rights work and that his criminal case is another step in a series of steps take to push Memorial out of the region.
Current and former employees of Civic Assistance, Elena Burtina, Lyudmila Handel, Leila Rogozina and Tatevik Gukasyan, spoke in defense of Oyub. They spoke about the humanitarian projects in Chechnya in which Oyub participated, mainly as a volunteer. His colleagues spoke positively about Titiev both professionally and personally.
During the proceedings, Oyub’s friends, acquaintances and neighbors were questioned along with residents of the Kurchaloy village. All of them asserted that Titiev does not drink, does not smoke, that he is an observant Muslim and is always ready to help. They said it is therefore impossible to believe that he is somehow connected with drugs.
At the end of the proceedings on October 16, Oyub was questioned about the things that had disappeared after his arrest, including his phone, camera, voice recorder, GPS trackers, a traumatic gun, etc.
Prosecutor Akhmatov said that now there is an ongoing verification of Titiev’s claims about his lost possessions. The judge announced a recess until November 5, when the verification should be completed.
Also on October 18, colleagues told Oyub that he received the «Hero of the Caucasus 2017» prize according to the «Caucasian Knot» and showed him a badge awarded to the laureates of this prize.
For more information about the testimony of these and other witnesses, please refer to day 19 and 20 of the proceedings on the website.
Oleg Orlov, a member of the Board of the Memorial Human Rights Center, who was interviewed as a witness the day before, commented on the course of the two court sessions: «First of all, I am very pleased that many residents of the Kurchaloyevsky district come to court and openly speak in support of Oyub. They say they do not believe this falsified accusation. None of them are afraid to positively characterize Oyub, despite the fact that the Chechen authorities have said about him and other human rights defenders.
Secondly, I, of course, see that the judge and the prosecution are on the same side. They abruptly cut short the attempts of witnesses to provide the court with facts that could help the court to figure out whether anyone was interested in falsifying the charges against Oyub Titiyev. And if this is the case, why would they do this? The court must examine all sides of the story, including the version detailing how authorities ordered for the case against Oyub to be falsified. In the course of my testimony in court, I tried to present the facts proving the correctness of such a version. I didn’t just give the court my opinion, but concrete facts. But the judge, along with the prosecutors, cut me off. With difficulty, overcoming obstacles, I was still able to partially convey what I wanted.
They are afraid of any statements on the political nature of the persecution of Oyub Titiyev. But this is a very important part of the defense’s position. And the judge prevents the defense from fully presenting the information important for Oyub Titiyev’s defense.»