23.06.2019

Speech by Ilya Novikov, one of the lawyers for the case of Oyub Titiev, at the Nemtsov Prize-2019

On June 12, the Boris Nemtsov Award ceremony was held for boldness and upholding democratic values. The finalists were politician Alexei Navalny, activist and blogger Mikhail Svetov, head of the “Memorial” branch in Chechnya, political prisoner Oyub Titiev, Karelian historian and human rights activist Yury Dmitriev, prisoner of conscience and member of the Federal Council of “Open Russia” Anastasia Shevchenko. Oyub at the event was represented by lawyer Ilya Nikoviko. We publish the dialogue between Ilya and Olga Shorina after it became known about the early release of Oyub.

Ilya, congratulations to Oyub Titiyev on parole, this is simply wonderful. When will he be released?

Until Oyub is free with us, while he is still in the colony, until the decision to release him comes into force, we will not celebrate it, and we don’t believe that everything is over yet. Let him first be among us.

And what are the risks?

I don’t want to talk about the risks, while the man is in prison, the situation is not resolved. It is important to understand that the court decision is just words written on paper; in such cases we are primarily fighting for the actual release of a person.

Ilya, as far as I understand the case of Titiyev is similar to the case of journalist Ivan Goldunov, because it is also a matter of how the drugs were planted to him. Can you generally talk about this process and how you managed to overcome this system, taking into the account that all this is happening in Kadyrov’s Chechnya?

It is important to understand what the Chechen Republic is from the point of view of human rights. In relation to Russia it is just about what Russia is in relation to Europe. That is, those things that may seem incredible, unprecedented, partly monstrous, occur there and in particular Oyub was engaged in research on the fate of the people who disappeared there. When we talk about disappeared people, we understand that in most of these cases we are talking about murder. There were alarming signals, Titiyev became the chairman of the Grozny district of the Memorial organization after the previous head of the organization Natalia Estemirova was found murdered.

It is important to understand what the Chechen Republic is from the point of view of human rights. In relation to Russia it is just about what Russia is in relation to Europe.

Throughout this work, Oyub understood that he and his staff were at risk, offices were smashed and threatened, on 9.01.2018, Oyub’s car, on which he was heading for Grozny, was stopped by traffic police and during an inspection of this car a bag of Oyub’s marijuana was found. The police did not bother to properly arrange the withdrawal of this package, Oyub was simply told: “Get in your car”, then, accompanied by the police, they brought him to the police station and there after refusing to sign confessions he was told: “If you want it according to law, it will be according to law”.

On the same morning, his car was taken along with him to the same place, the same bag was placed in it once again, then the detectives and the witnesses appeared, they made a protocol, there were a lot of inconsistencies in this case, we talked about them in detail during the process. The process for article 228 part 2 lasted a record long time, for all the time more than 100 people witnessed, while usually there are 3-4 witnesses in such processes, there were a lot of violations and inconsistencies.

How surprised were we, or not surprise, when it turned out that of the 19 cameras that were set on different buildings, there were no cameras installed on the building of the police department, no cameras on the bank building, no cameras at private stores that day.

The most obvious thing was that it was about a car, because when a small package is thrown into a pocket in a person, it usually does not fall on any video camera, and in such a situation it is the words of the accused and the the lawyer against the words of the police, because Oiub insisted that his car drove into the gates of the police station twice that day, we of course had to check whether it was so or not, because if the car drove once, it means that police says the truth, if the car drove in two times, then Oyub tells the truth. How surprised were we, or not surprise, when it turned out that of the 19 cameras that were set on different buildings, there were no cameras installed on the building of the police department, no cameras on the bank building, no cameras at private stores that day. According to the police, none of these cameras worked and no records were made. What was easiest to verify, and what was easiest to confirm, turned out to be unknown. In my opinion, all this already clearly defines this situation, given that Oyub is still in prison at the moment, I do not want to go into details, we talked about this in detail at the process.

Despite the fact that our process did not take place in Moscow, but at a fairly remote point in Russia, nevertheless, a number of journalists and diplomats came to every meeting, this is a very important point and I think that we need to talk about it. In Russia, the behavior of judges and prosecutors is very different, then when there is a foreign diplomat in the courtroom, they fear, beware and are afraid to do what they do in cases when they are not supervised, we are very grateful to all those who supported Oyuba all this time, to all those who came to personally observe the process, who wrote about this process. The Oyub’s release according to the plan next week will really happen largely thanks to you, thanks to those who did all this.