14 Jan 2018 19:40

Chechen authorities dismiss rights activist Titiyev's defense team's allegations about threats against his relatives as groundless

GROZNY. Jan 14 (Interfax) - Chechen authorities have refuted the allegations voiced by the head of the local branch of the Memorial human rights center Oyub Titiyev's lawyer that threats have been coming against family members of his client.

"Chechen law enforcement agencies were bewildered with the lawyer's statement that certain threats are allegedly coming against his client Titiyev. This is absolutely untrue. No one has ever demanded and is not demanding that Titiyev charged with possession of drugs give a confessing testimony, should he is not guilty," Alvi Karimov, the Chechen head's spokesperson, told Interfax on Sunday.

"The statements that his family had to leave the republic for security purposes due to certain threats are also absolutely baseless. Not a single person has voiced threats against Titiyev's relatives," he said.

The incident involving Titiyev is an ordinary case, Karimov said.

"Hundreds of law breaches related to illegal drug turnover were reported in the republic last year. People of different social status and lifestyle are identified as suspects," the Chechen head's spokesperson said.

Chechen law enforcement agencies are seeking to carry out an objective investigation, he said.

"If he is guilty, he will be brought to justice, and if not, this inquiry will regain his good name. The entire uproar raised around this incident is pursuing only one goal, which is to make it look like rights activists in Chechnya are also pursuing the second goal, that is, obstructing an objective investigation," Karimov said.

"The reason why the defense team and those, who are unfolding the information campaign around the name of Titiyev, are not interested in an objective inquiry remains in question. Titiyev is a resident of the Republic of Chechnya, and no one in Chechnya wishes him anything bad," he said.

Family members of the defendant charged with illegal drug turnover have left the republic for security purposes, his lawyer Pyotr Zaikin told Interfax earlier on Sunday.

"Yes, his family has left the republic. This has been done exclusively for security considerations, because threats are not stopping," Zaikin said.

The lawyer refrained from an answer to the question about whether the human rights activist's relatives are staying in Russia or left the country. "I am not entitled to disclose this information without my client's permit," he said.

Police do not cease attempts to put pressure on Titiyev, the lawyer also said.

"Threatening to create problems for the family, police are thus attempting to make him give a confessing testimony," Zaikin said.

Titiyev is charged with possessing a large amount of drugs (Article 228 of the Russian Criminal Code).

On January 11, Chechnya's Shali District Court sanctioned the arrest of the rights activist until March 9. His defense team has already appealed this judgment.

Memorial's press service told Interfax on January 9 that law enforcers had detained Titiyev in Chechnya. A package supposedly containing a narcotic substance has been found in Titiyev's car and the activist has undergone a medical examination, the press service of the Interior Ministry branch for Chechnya said later.

Titiyev does not plead guilty and insists that drugs had been planted on him. He believes that this provocation is linked to his professional activity,

Mikhail Fedotov, the head of the Russian Presidential Human Rights Council (HRC), earlier asked the Russian Investigative Committee (SKR) head to carry out a pre-investigation inquiry into Titiyev's detention. Meanwhile, it was reported on Friday that the Investigative Committee had not found any grounds for a pre-investigation inquiry into the circumstances of Titiyev's detention.