MOSCOW – A prominent Russian rights group says one of its activists has been arrested in the province of Chechnya on trumped-up charges.
The Memorial said Oyub Titiev, the head of its branch in Chechnya, was arrested Tuesday on charges of unlawful drug possession that he rejected.
Human Rights Watch denounced Titiev's arrest as a "disgraceful attempt at silencing Memorial." It emphasized that framing people for drug crimes has become a favorite tactic for Chechnya's authorities to punish critics.
U.S. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said Wednesday that Titiev's arrest is "the latest in a string of reports of alarming recent human rights violations in Chechnya" and urged his immediate release.
Council of Europe's Commissioner for Human Rights Nils Muiznieks called Titiev's arrest "a very worrying signal" and demanded his release.