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Police Use Bomb Scare to Abort Human Rights Play, Activists Say

Agency of Social Information /

Moscow police have repeatedly attempted to derail a theater performance about a jailed Chechen human rights activist using bomb threats and forced evacuations.

The embattled Teatr.doc, whose married co-founders both died in the past two months, premiered Oyub” on Wednesday. The play documents the life of Oyub Titiyev, the head of the Chechen branch of the Memorial Human Rights Center who was arrested on marijuana charges this year.

Human Rights Activist Arrested on Drug Charges in Chechnya

Police evacuated Teatr.doc’s premises on a bomb scare during one performance, the investigative newspaper Novaya Gazeta reported Wednesday. Police later made a second attempt to disrupt the play which was performed at a different site, claiming another bomb threat, but the production had wrapped up before they were able to evacuate the theater.

“How lucky that police are so bad at their jobs," said one actor during a Q&A session after a performance. 

Activists have dismissed Titiyev’s drug possession charges, which carry a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison, as fabricated. Human Rights Watch has called on the football governing authority FIFA to lobby for his release with the authorities.

Although Chechnya will not be hosting matches at the month-long World Cup that kicks off on Thursday, Egypt’s national team is based in the Chechen capital of Grozny. Its star forward Mohamed Salah has come under fire this week for posing alongside Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov on his first day on Russian soil.

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