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

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, premieredOyub” 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.

Police evacuated 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, claiming another bomb threat, but the production had wrapped up before they were able to evacuate the theater.

“Theater representatives believe police wanted to disrupt Oyub,” wrote Novaya Gazeta.

Activists have dismissed Titiyevs 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, Egypts 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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