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The arrest on 9 January of the Director of the Memorial Human Rights Centre in the Chechen Republic, Mr Oyub Titiev, continues a worrying trend of arrests, as well as attacks, intimidations and discrediting of independent journalists and human rights defenders who work in that region of the Russian Federation. Similar cases in the past include journalist Zhalaudi Geriev and the chair of the Assembly of the Peoples of the Caucasus, Ruslan Kutaev, who were both sentenced on dubious grounds. The case of Mr Titiev is especially concerning, taking into account that his predecessor, Ms Natalia Estemirova, was killed in 2009 and that no one has yet been brought to justice for this crime.
The Head of the EU Delegation sent a letter to the Russian High Commissioner for Human Rights, Tatiana Moskalkova, on the day of Mr Titiev’s detention. We expect federal and regional authorities in the Russian Federation to fully observe the legal rights of Mr Titiev, in accordance with Russia's international human rights commitments, and to release him swiftly.