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Russian prosecutors seek four years for Chechnya activist

AFP  |  Moscow 

Russian prosecutors on Monday asked a court to sentence a top activist in to four years in a penal colony, over what campaigners say are trumped-up drug charges.

Oyub Titiyev, the 61-year-old head of the branch of group Memorial, was arrested at the start of last year.

His lawyers say the case is connected to Titiyev's investigations into the secretive prison system of a republic that is notorious for abuses.

"We ask that Titiyev be found guilty and sentenced to four years in a penal colony, along with a fine of 100,000 rubles (USD 1,500)," prosecutors told the court in Chechnya's district, according to Russian agencies.

A verdict in the trial, which has been ongoing since last summer, is expected shortly.

Observers say drug charges have been used repeatedly in the past to silence critical journalists and rights workers in the region.

Memorial is the last rights organisation to retain a visible presence in while remaining critical of local leader

The NGO said its offices in the neighbouring Ingushetia republic were torched following Titiyev's arrest and colleagues in Dagestan, another republic, were attacked.

The group speaks out about human rights violations in and has accused the of overseeing a "totalitarian" regime that uses kidnappings and torture.

Titiyev's predecessor as the of Memorial, Natalya Estemirova, was kidnapped and killed in 2009.

The rights group said the killers were acting on the orders of local authorities.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Mon, March 11 2019. 15:45 IST