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Apparent arson attack against Russian human rights workers in Nazran


fire broke out at the Nazran office of the human rights organization Memorial on January 17, injuring no one but destroying the group’s computers, papers, and other equipment.

Officials have not yet named the reason for the blaze, but Timur Akiyev, Memorial’s local director, says he found a melted plastic bottle in his office that apparently held kerosene, and the office’s security camera footage shows two masked men climbing onto the building’s rooftop.

Oleg Orlov, the national head of Memorial, says the fire is likely connected to criminal charges against Memorial’s director in Chechnya.

Earlier this month, Memorial’s director in Chechnya, Oyub Titiyev, was arrested for possession of illegal drugs. He says the drugs were planted in his car.

Diplomats in the United States and European Union have called for Titiyev’s release. Russia’s Human Rights Council has asked the Investigative Committee to review the circumstances of Titiyev’s arrest, but the agency says there are no grounds to initiate a formal review.