Vaclav Havel Prize goes to jailed Russian activist

Oyub Titiev
The sixth annual Vaclav Havel Human Rights Prize was awarded to Chechen activist Oyub Titiev on Monday. The prize was handed out in absentia by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), as Titiev has been imprisoned since January.
Titiev was the head of the Memorial Human Rights Center in Grozny, the capital of Chechnya. Memorial has offices throughout the Russian Federation, and works to document the historical wrongs on the Soviet Union, but also to monitor rights abuses in modern Russia and former Soviet states.
Natalia Estemirova, Titiev's predecessor, was murdered in 2009. Since then, PACE wrote on its website, he "has made a widely-recognized contribution to the defense of human rights in the region by reporting on abuses by the local authorities."
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Politically motivated arrest
On January 9, Titiev was arrested after police said they found marijuana in his car during a routine check. Titiev has released a statement accusing the officer of planting the drugs while they inspected his car. He is still in detention and has yet to be tried.
Other activists and opposition politicians from within Russia have criticized his arrest as politically motivated, as well as international NGOs like Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International.
"We are fully aware of the difficulties that Mr Titiev and his colleagues face. This prize is a recognition of the work he and Memorial are doing," PACE President Liliane Maury Pasquier said.
"It is also a message to all those who work in this region to affirm the principles of the rule of law and human rights. Keep up the good work, you can count on our support," she added.