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Russia human rights: Chechnya court jails Memorial activist

A court in Russia's Chechnya republic has sentenced a prominent rights activist to four years in jail for possessing illegal drugs.

Oyub Titiev, who heads the regional branch of rights group Memorial, said the case was "politically motivated".

to justice.

In recent years, Memorial has investigated alleged abuse by Chechen authorities, including kidnappings, torture and the persecution of gay men.

Chechen authorities have repeatedly denied the allegations.

Memorial is the last rights group to have a presence in the North Caucasus republic run by authoritarian leader Ramzan Kadyrov.

Oyub Titiev's predecessor at Memorial, Natalia Estemirova, was abducted and killed in 2009.

The court in the town of Shali, north-east of the capital Grozny, sentenced Titiev, aged 61, after the judge took nearly nine hours to read out her verdict.

The courtroom was packed with reporters and diplomats, as well as relatives and neighbours of the activist.

The judge said she had agreed with the demands of prosecutors, sentencing Titiev to four years in prison.