Bärbel Kofler, Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid at the Federal Foreign Office, issued the following statement marking the anniversary of 10 January 2018, the date of the arrest of Oyub Titiev, the office director of the Memorial Human Rights Centre in Grozny (Chechnya) :
For one year now, Oyub Titiev has been in custody, and his criminal trial has lasted several months so far. It is high time for Oyub Titiev to be released! Russia should follow the clear recommendations of OSCE Rapporteur Professor Benedek.
It is not acceptable to have regions in Europe in which human rights defenders cannot work. Oyub Titiev insists that, also in Chechnya, the rights of the local population, including their right to life and physical integrity, must be fully respected.
He and all Memorial staff must be able to work unhindered.
On 9 January 2018, Oyub Titiev, the director of the Chechnya office of the Memorial Human Rights Centre, was arrested for alleged possession of drugs. Titiev denies the allegations; he says that the drugs were placed on his person during the arrest. The German Government has doubts as to whether rule-of-law standards have been upheld during the proceedings. Oyub Titiev’s predecessor, Natalia Estemirova, was murdered in 2009.
The first day of the main trial in Titiev’s case was held in the city of Shali on 3 July 2018. Observers of the proceedings included the German Embassy. In November 2018, they were also followed by Member of the German Bundestag Nils Schmid.
In October 2018, the Council of Europe awarded Oyub Titiev the Václav Havel Human Rights Prize. In December 2018, Oyub Titiev was awarded the Franco-German Prize for Human Rights by Foreign Ministers Heiko Maas and Jean-Yves Le Drian.
In December 2018, a report on “alleged human rights violations and impunity in the Chechen Republic of the Russian Federation” was published by the Moscow Mechanism Rapporteur of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe. The report also addresses Titiev’s case. It describes the evidence against him as “obviously fabricated”, calls for his release, and recommends that his trial be held outside the Chechen Republic.