Following the fire in the Memorial office in the Russian republic of Ingushetia, Bärbel Kofler, Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights at the Federal Foreign Office, issued the following statement today (18 January):
I am shocked by the suspected arson attack on the office of the Memorial Human Rights Centre in the republic of Ingushetia in Russia.
I call upon the authorities to begin investigations without delay and to protect Memorial and all other human rights organisations in Russia from such attacks.
Furthermore, I am extremely worried about the deteriorating health of Oyub Titiev, the office director of the Memorial Human Rights Centre in Chechnya who was taken into custody by the police last week. The authorities are obliged to ensure that Mr Titiev has access to doctors and medication while in custody.
As there are serious doubts about the accusations against Mr Titiev, I would very much welcome his immediate release.
During the night of 16 to 17 January 2018, the office of the Memorial Human Rights Centre in the Russian republic of Ingushetia suffered a suspected arson attack. As recently as 9 January 2018, the Russian human rights activist and director of the Chechnya office of the Memorial Human Rights Centre, Oyub Titiev, was arrested. His predecessor, Natalia Estemirova, was shot and killed in 2009. The crime has still not been solved. The non-governmental organisation Memorial, whose founders include Andrei Sakharov and Sergei Kovalyov, is one of the leading human rights organisations in Russia. Since 1988 it has been committed to the investigation of Stalinist crimes and to promoting the development of a free democratic society. In particular, Memorial focuses on the human rights situation in the northern Caucasus.