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Chechen Court Sentences Mother of Prominent Activist to 5.5 Years in Prison 

Zarema Musayeva Yelena Afonina / TASS

Zarema Musaeva, the mother of prominent Chechen human rights lawyer and activist Abubakar Yangulbaev, has been sentenced to 5.5 years in prison, the Committee Against Torture rights group reported Tuesday

A judge at a local court in Grozny, the capital of Russia’s North Caucasus republic of Chechnya, found Musaeva guilty of assaulting the authorities and fraud — accusations she strongly denied.

Abubakar Yangulbaev said the sentence was "equal to the death penalty" given the state of his mother's health.

Earlier Tuesday, Musaeva’s lawyer Alexander Nemov and prominent journalist Yelena Milashina, who arrived in the Chechen capital to attend the hearing, were hospitalized after being badly beaten on their way from the local airport. 

Musaeva, 53, was violently detained by Chechen law enforcement in January 2022, in the family’s apartment in the city of Nizhny Novgorod some 420 kilometers east of Moscow.

Chechen security officers had also attempted to detain Musaeva’s husband, the retired federal judge Saydi Yangulbaev, but were unable to arrest him due to his judicial immunity.

Musaeva has been held in a pre-trial detention center in Grozny since her detention. Abubakar Yangulabev and human rights groups repeatedly sounded the alarm about her deteriorating health as authorities denied Musaeva access to adequate medical care. 

Abubakar Yangulbaev and his brothers, Baysangur and Ibragim, are vocal critics of Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov and are based outside the country. 

Human rights activists have linked Musaeva’s arrest to her sons’ activism.

Abubakar Yangulbaev in January publicly offered to surrender himself to Kadyrov in exchange for his mother’s release.

Baysangur and Ibragim Yangulbaev were added to the federal list of “terrorists and extremists” in November 2022.

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