RFE/RL – Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (Author)
STAVROPOL, Russia -- A man from Russia's North Caucasus region of Karachai-Cherkessia has been charged with masterminding the financial support of a terrorist organization just as he was to be released from prison after serving a 16-year term for the attempted killing of a law enforcement officer.
Aslan Sanashokov's lawyer, Ramazan Uzuyev, told RFE/RL on April 28 that his client was charged with organizing a cash transfer in 2014 while in custody to a man allegedly linked to a terrorist group in Syria.
According to Uzuyev, Sanashokov was charged on April 22, the day he was supposed to be released from a correctional institution in the Stavropol Krai region after finishing his 16-year term. Instead of being released, Sanashokov was sent to a pretrial detention center until June 22.
Sanashokov rejects the charge, saying it wasn't possible to organize cash transfers to anyone while behind bars. He says officers of the Federal Security Service (FSB) fabricated the case against him after they interrogated his wife last year and planted a flashcard in his belongings, the contents of which were later used against him.
In many former Soviet republics, the practice of filing new charges against inmates to keep them incarcerated right before their expected release has been common for years.
The FSB's directorate in the Stavropol Krai refused to comment on the situation when contacted by RFE/RL by phone, saying that the directorate does not have a press service.
The directorate confirmed, however, that it had received RFE/RL's written questions and promised to answer them "in the nearest future."
Karachai-Cherkessia is one of several autonomous republics making up Russia's restive, mostly Muslim-populated North Caucasus, which has long been plagued by criminal violence and Islamic radicals who have mounted frequent attacks against police, public officials, and moderate Muslims in the region.
However, rights activists have criticized security officials and police in the region -- which also includes the volatile republics of Chechnya, Daghestan, Ingushetia, and Kabardino-Balkaria -- for abuse of power, human rights violations, fabricating criminal cases, torture, and even extrajudicial killings.
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