Prosecutor Seeks Lengthy Prison Term For Mother Of Chechen Opposition Bloggers

GROZNY, Russia -- The prosecutor in a high-profile trial in Russia's North Caucasus region of Chechnya has asked a court in Grozny to sentence Zarema Musayeva, the jailed mother of three self-exiled outspoken Chechen opposition activists, to 5 1/2 years in prison for fraud and assaulting a law enforcement officer, charges that critics call politically motivated.

Musayeva is the mother of Ibragim, Abubakar, and Baisangur Yangulbayev, all of whom have fled the country citing harassment from Chechen authorities over their online criticism of Kremlin-backed Chechen head Ramzan Kadyrov.

Chechen police and security officers seized Musayeva in January last year in her apartment in the Russian city of Nizhny Novgorod, some 1,800 kilometers from Chechnya, and forcibly returned her to Grozny.

Kadyrov, other Chechen officials, and a member of the Russian Duma have publicly vowed to kill all members of the Yangulbayev family, calling them "terrorists."

Journalists, rights activists, and other Russians have urged the government to punish those who issued the threats.

Abubakar Yangulbayev has accused Kadyrov's law enforcement and security officers of "lawlessness on a daily basis in Chechnya" and said the case against his mother is Kadyrov's retaliation for his activities.

Ibragim and Abubakar have said they faced years of pressure from Chechen authorities over their online criticism of Kadyrov and the rights situation in Chechnya.

Many of their relatives have been similarly harassed in Chechnya and even deprived of their homes since Kadyrov and his people vowed to kill them and their family.

The activists' father, retired federal judge Saidi Yangulbayev, and a sister fled Russia in January following the threats.

Russian and international human rights groups have for years accused Kadyrov of overseeing grave human rights abuses, including abductions, torture, extrajudicial killings, and the persecution of the LGBT community.

Kremlin critics say Putin has turned a blind eye to the abuses because he relies on the former rebel commander to control separatist sentiment and violence in Chechnya.

Last week Abubakar Yangulbayev said his mother’s diabetes has progressed, her eyesight has worsened, and she has started having pains in her back, since being detained