(Moscow) – A court in Chechnya on September 5, 2016, sentenced a local independent journalist to three years in prison on dubious drug possession charges, Human Rights Watch said today.
The journalist, Zhalaudi Geriev, worked for the Caucasian Knot, a Russian media portal covering current developments in the Caucasus and well known for its reporting on abuses by Chechen authorities. Geriev will appeal the sentence.
“We have no doubt that Geriev is being punished for his work as a journalist and hope that justice will prevail on appeal,” said Tanya Lokshina, Russia program director at Human Rights Watch.
Ramzan Kadyrov, the leader of Russia’s Chechen Republic, has steadily tried to eradicate all forms of dissent and gradually built a tyranny within Chechnya. Kadyrov, who has been in this post since 2007 by virtue of appointment from the Kremlin, now faces elections on September 18 for the head, or governor, of Chechnya.
Chechen police detained Geriev, 23, on the morning of April 16. The journalist told the court that three armed men dragged him out of a shuttle bus en route from the town of Kurchaloi to Grozny, Chechnya’s capital, from which he intended to travel on to Moscow for work-related purposes.