Background note on the international advocacy activities of the Open Dialog Foundation coordinated by the Brussels office in 2013 - 2015

The Open Dialog Foundation (ODF) is a non-governmental, non-partisan organization established in Poland, in 2009. The statutory objectives of the Foundation include promotion, support and protection of human rights, democracy and rule of law in the post-Soviet area. The Foundation pursues its goals through the organization of bilateral and multilateral meetings, seminars, conferences (side events, hearings, exchange of views), observation missions, manifestations, happenings etc., on the human rights situation in the region, with a particular focus on the three biggest countries: Kazakhstan, Ukraine and Russia.

Based on these activities, the Foundation creates reports and distributes them among the institutions of the EU, the CoE, the OSCE, the UN and other international organizations, foreign ministries and parliaments, media, think tanks and CSOs. The Foundation cooperates mostly with politicians, international civil servants, diplomats, journalists, civic activists, academics and students by organizing for them meetings with political opposition, civic activists, independent journalists and experts from the focus countries.

As a result of direct meetings with politicians, dozens of letters and statements of support have been written, sent and published by MEPs and national MPs and senators – both on the general human rights situation in the countries of focus, as well as on individual cases.

The Foundation operates on a daily basis in Warsaw, Kyiv and Brussels. It was registered under the Polish law on 9 December 2009 and under the Ukrainian law on 27 August 2014. Representatives of the Foundation follow and attend the most important sessions and meetings of the international organizations and institutions in Strasbourg (Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe), Vienna (Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe Parliamentary Assembly) and Geneva (United Nations).

The Foundation’s Brussels office carries out a regular day-to-day monitoring and information campaign towards the EU institutions (EP, EC, Councils and the EEAS), as well as a number of the EU member states, i.a. Italy and France. The daily work done constitutes of developing and constantly broadening the network of contacts of individuals - key officials and parliamentarians, as well as non-governmental bodies involved in the promotion of human rights respect and democracy in the post-Soviet area. The Foundation keeps these stakeholders informed through direct meetings and with its reports and analysis based on the work of our teams and provides them with factual and informational support whenever needed prior to the drafting of resolutions, written questions, letters, statements and more. We ensure that human rights are included in the debates on bilateral and multilateral relations between the EU, its member states and the countries of focus. We also work closely with our stakeholders in bringing to their attention individual cases of political and civic activists that are being targeted for their pro-democratic and pro-human rights activity so that these individual cases can be brought up in meetings and talks with the relevant authorities of the focus countries.

The document lists below the most important and relevant international activities (not all) of the Foundation between 2013 and 2015, starting from the most recent ones from end of 2014 and beginning of 2015, which are also highlighted in more detail. Activities from 2013-2014 will be presented in a more concise way to provide an idea of the span and scope of the work done and results achieved, without detailing separately individual events.

End of 2014 and beginning of 2015

European Union: 

6 May, 2015 – Brussels 

At the occasion of the exchange of views on human rights situation in Central Asia at the European Parliament’s Subcommittee on Human Rights (DROI) meeting, ODF facilitated the participation of some speakers and organized additional meetings (with members of the European Parliament, EU member states Permanent Representations and the EEAS) for a group of experts on Central Asia: Mr Yevgeniy Zhovtis, Director of the Kazakhstan International Bureau for Human Rights and Rule of Law, Mrs Nadejda Atayeva, President of the Association Human Rights in Central Asia in France, refugee (both speakers at the DROI meeting) and Mr Muratbek Ketebayev, member of Kazakh political opposition, active political and economic commentator of developments in Kazakhstan, refugee.

Another measurable result of organized events, meetings and afterwards political interventions were granting of political asylum, refugee status or other kind of international protection to several dissidents Mr Alexandr Pavlov in Spain, Mr Muratbek Ketebayev in Spain and Poland, Ms Tatiana Paraskevich in the Czech Republic or Mrs Alma Shalabayeva in Italy.

The guests had a chance to present their direct experiences, provide their interlocutors with first-hand information on the current situation of human rights and basic rights respect in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan.

Results:

As a result of the meetings, as well as the presence of the guests at the DROI exchange of views, a group of MEPs from the DROI Subcommittee and DCAS (EU-Central Asia) Delegation committed to sending letters addressed to Central Asian governments to express their concern over the discussed human rights violations and detention of political prisoners. Furthermore, individual MEPs sent written questions and letters on the issues of political prisoners in Kazakhstan, as well as the persecution of Kazakh dissidents abroad to the High Representative/Vice President Mrs Federica Mogherini, as well as individual EU member states involved (in this case France, re. the case of Mr Mukhtar Ablyazov).

See an overview and photos HERE.

27-28 April, 2015 – Strasbourg

ODF organized a series of meetings between a member of the Ukrainian parliament, Mr Vitalii Kuprii, Deputy Committee Chair on Legal Drafting for Law-Enforcement Activity and MEPs actively involved in the support for Ukraine. The meetings were devoted to the process of reforms in Ukraine.

Aim:

The meetings were held within the information campaign that ODF is carrying out and with the goal of putting the young and new Ukrainian MPs, actively working on supporting the reforms’ development, in touch with MEPs and relevant stakeholders abroad in order to further facilitate bilateral information and expertise exchanges.

See photos HERE

24 March, 2015 – Brussels 

ODF co-organized along with Konrad Adenauer Stiftung a round-table on anti-corruption in Ukraine, with the participation of experts on the issue from NGOs: Sasha Drik from the Civic Lustration Committee of Ukraine and Bartosz Kramek, Head of the Foundation’s Board, as well as several Ukrainian MPs from different political groups. At the occasion of the event, ODF also organized a series of meetings between our guests and MEPs, including with Mr Ryszard Czarnecki, the Vice-President of the European Parliament.

Aim:

The event and the meetings were held within the information campaign that ODF is carrying out and with the goal of putting the young Ukrainian activists and new Ukrainian MPs, actively working on supporting the reforms’ development, in touch with MEPs and relevant stakeholders abroad in order to further facilitate bilateral information and expertise exchanges. The project, further aims, at fostering substantial and topical debates on the developments in Ukraine, which can bring about concrete results for Ukraine, while providing an opportunity for the participants to learn how best to interact with partners on an international level and how to advocate, directly, for their own cause.

See an overview and photos HERE

8 December, 2014 – Brussels 

ODF participated in a conference on misuse of the INTERPOL system by non-democratic states, organized by Fair Trials International in the European Parliament. The participants to the event heard testimonies from experts and direct victims of INTERPOL misuse, including an ODF guest, Mrs Alma Shalabayeva, currently political refugee in Italy. At the occasion of the conference, ODF organized additionally a series of direct meetings between MEPs and our guests: Mrs Shalabayeva and Mr Muratbek Ketebayev, Kazakh dissident and political refugee in Poland.

Aim and results:

Thanks to the direct meetings, MEPs get a chance to meet activists personally and get to know their stories, which often results in substantial direct involvement and reactivity when, subsequently, activists face repressions or retaliation for their activities. In this concrete case, Mr Ketebayev got detained in Spain upon an INTERPOL Red Notice, at the end of December 2014. Prompt reaction from MEPs he met at the beginning of the month, and with whom he discussed his and other cases, brought about a large action of support in form of letters, written questions and direct interventions with the Spanish authorities to clarify the situation.

EU member states:

26-27 February, 2015 – Berlin

ODF organized the launch of its report on the issue of misuse of INTERPOL system by non-democratic states in the Bundestag, German parliament, at a hearing hosted by MP, Mr Frank Schwabe. The event was attended by German MPs from different political parties and by representatives of the embassies of EU member states in Berlin.

Aim and results:

The event was organized within the campaign that ODF is carrying out in order to advocate for a substantial reform of INTERPOL that would allow for the stronger legal safeguards against politically motivated misuse of the system and would foster more transparency. ODF has been actively advocating in this area both on the level of EU and international organizations and individual EU member states. In order to obtain concrete results, political will and pressure is needed on numerous levels, both from international bodies and national organisms within INTERPOL member states. One of the tangible results of such activities is the mounting interest of individual MPs, who address their authorities with letters and questions concerning the phenomenon. Such interventions can and do bring about greater pressure for systemic changes, as well as support to individual cases of dissidents, whose lives are being put at stake because of the politically motivated misuse of INTERPOL.

See an overview and photos HERE.

17 February, 2015 – Zaragoza

Upon invitation from Real e Ilustre Colegio de Abogados de Zaragoza (ReICAZ), on of the Spain’s oldest training center for lawyers, ODF provided speakers and experts with a seminar entitled “Situation of human rights in Kazakhstan. Right to asylum”. The event was attended by wide circle of lawyers representing different associations.   

Aim and results:

The aim of the seminar was to present difficulties in situation of asylum seekers and persons who obtained asylum, who are being put on the INTERPOL Red Notice list by their home countries. In Spain cases of Mr Alexandr Pavlov and Mr Ketebayev – both detained upon Red Notice – brought the problem of misusing the INTERPOL by the authoritarian states to the media attention. The seminar strengthened awareness about the issue among Spanish lawyers and members of the public administration.

See an overview and photos HERE.                                                                        

9 October, 2014 – Madrid  

ODF co-organized a conference “Abusos de los mecanismos de Interpol: ¿Hora de reformas?” (Abuses of mechanisms of the INTERPOL. Time for reforms?), held at the premises of Fundación Abogacía Española (Foundation of the Spanish Bar Association), which gathered high profile audience. Speakers included policy-makers, members of the international community (OSCE), victims of the practice of misusing INTERPOL, and ODF experts.

Aim and results:

The meeting’s aim was to frame the incidents of the arrests of the political refugees into a wider context of the practice of misusing INTERPOL by authoritarian states. The seminar, which brought together human rights defenders, members of the judiciary, lawyers, journalists, resulted in numerous publications as well as declarations of cooperation with the PACE in preparing recommendations for its report supporting reforms of the INTERPOL, expressed by Spanish practitioners.

See an overview, photos and a video report HERE.

Council of Europe: 

26-28 January, 2015 - Strasbourg 

ODF organized a side event, within the January PACE session, entitled “Political prisoners, territorial annexation, support of terrorism - Russia's violation of international laws in Ukraine crisis”, at which it launched its report on the same topic. The event was hosted by a member of PACE, MP from the Netherlands, Mr Pieter Omtzigt. One of the guests of the event was Mr Mark Feygin, famous Russian lawyer and defender of political prisoners in Russia, such as Ms Nadiya Savchenko and Pussy Riots. During the stay in Strasbourg, ODF also organized a press conference and numerous interviews with the media for Mr Feygin to present the case of his client, Ukrainian pilot, MP and delegate to PACE, illegally detained in Russia, Ms Savchenko. Additional, face-to-face meetings were organized with Mrs Anne Brasseur, President of PACE and Mr Nils Muižnieks, CoE Commissioner for Human Rights and individual members of PACE.

Aim and results: 

After (ODF's) side event, the Bureau Members of the PACE decided to support a PACE resolution calling for a report on the issue (of misue of INTERPOL by non-democratic states).

After the side-event PACE delegates reviewed the credentials of the Russian Delegation and upheld sanctions according to which voting rights and the right to be represented in the PACE's main bodies had been suspended. Furthermore, the President of PACE increased her efforts to obtain the release of Ms Savchenko, allowing to keep her case high on the agenda of international talks.  

See overview and photos HERE.

1 October, 2014 – Strasbourg 

ODF and Fair Trials International co-organised a side event on politically motivated abuse of INTERPOL (by non-democratic countries) and the need for stronger legal safeguards. The event was hosted by five PACE members: Mr Christoph Straesser, Mr Pieter Omtzigt, Mrs Mailis Reps, Mr Kimmo Sasi, Mrs Marietta Pourbaix-Lundin. The participants to the event heard testimonies from victims of INTERPOL misuse: Mrs Alma Shalabayeva, wife of a Kazakh dissident, Mr Mukhtar Ablyazov, himself persecuted by Kazakhstan via INTERPOL Red Notice, as well as Mr Bill Browder, CEO of Hermitage Capital and Head of Global Magnitsky Campaign, whom Russia has been trying to put on the INTERPOL wanted list a number of times.

Aim and results: 

The event was organized within the campaign that ODF is carrying out in order to advocate for a substantial reform of INTERPOL that would allow for the stronger legal safeguards against politically motivated misuse of the system and would foster more transparency. ODF has been actively advocating in this area both on the level of EU and international organizations and individual EU member states. After the side event, the Bureau Members of the PACE decided to support a PACE resolution calling for a report on the issue. The report is currently in preparation and it allows the Legal Affairs and Human Rights Committee of PACE to study the problem more in-depth, meet with representatives of INTERPOL directly and work on concrete recommendations for positive reforms of the system.

See an overview and photos HERE.

Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe: 

18-20 February, 2015 – Vienna 

ODF participated in the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly (OSCE PA) Winter Meeting, which was dedicated to the topic of “Human rights of migrants and refugees”. The ODF’s representatives along with Mrs Irina Petrushova, Kazakh journalists of “Respublika” newspaper and Mr Artur Trofimov, Kazakh political refugee in Austria, had a series of meetings i.a. with Ms Isabel Santos, Chair of the OSCE PA General Committee on Democracy, Human Rights and Humanitarian Questions and representative of the Office of the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media.

Aim and results:

See an overview and photos HERE.

United Nations:

14-18 November, 2014 - Geneva

ODF representative participated in an experts debriefing for members of the Committee Against Torture of the UN (CAT) on the situation in Kazakhstan, prior to the CAT review of the country.

Aim and results: 

ODF participated in the debriefing organized by CAT within its project on advocacy activities at the UN, aimed at raising the general awareness of the UN members towards a difficult situation of human rights defenders, activists, independent media and political opposition in Kazakhstan. A very tangible result of this active participation in the meeting was a thorough review by CAT members, who pointed out to concrete cases and information that was brought to their attention by NGO representatives, including ODF, present at the experts debriefing. Such actions represent an integral part of ODF’s work in ensuring that international community properly assesses and addresses the shortcomings in the area of human rights respect in Kazakhstan, which – in the end – can prompt the release of individual political prisoners (in this case, Mrs Roza Tuletayeva, leader of the striking oil workers’ movement, detained and imprisoned after tragic Zhanaozen events in December 2011, victim of the use of torture, was released).

28-29 October, 2014 - Geneva 

ODF co-organized along with Reporters without Borders and ACAT a side event at the occasion of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) session, during which Kazakhstan was also reviewed. The event focused on problems with systemic violations of human rights in Kazakhstan and was attended by a large number of representatives of UN member states’ Permanent Missions in Geneva, NGOs and journalists.

Aim and results:

The aim of the event was to draw the attention of the UN member states to the problem with systemic and widespread violations of human rights in Kazakhstan at the occasion of the UPR process, during which member states have a possibility to suggest recommendation to the state under review. The concrete and tangible result was a list of strong and good recommendations, some of which included individual cases, presented by a large group of UN member states. Such actions create additional international political and diplomatic pressure on the authorities of non-democratic countries to allow some positive change.

1-3 September, 2014 – Geneva

ODF representatives took part in the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention’s (WGAD) global consultations on the Right to Challenge the Lawfulness of Detention before Court, during which international NGOs, as well as member states could provide their recommendations for the preparation of the report. The recommendations and comments provided by ODF were included in the works of the WGAD on the final report. At the occasion of the presence in Geneva, ODF representatives also met a number of member states’ Permanent Missions to UN to discuss the UPR process of Kazakhstan, due in October 2014.

Aim and results:

The aim of the visit in Geneva was to participate actively in the global consultations in order to ensure that the voice of civil society is heard during discussions on such an important topic. Direct meetings with UN member states’ Permanent Missions were an occasion to share our ODF recommendations for the UPR of Kazakhstan, provide concrete and detailed information on main human rights violations and areas of concern with regard to the topic of the UPR and advocate for broad support of the member states. Indeed, also thanks to the meetings held, many member states included our information when drafting their recommendations to Kazakhstan for the UPR process. Such occasions constitute a useful tool in exerting international, diplomatic pressure on countries that do not respect human rights but are sensitive to their international image, as is the case of Kazakhstan.  

See an overview and photos HERE

Brief overview of international advocacy activities of Open Dialog Foundation in 2013 and first part of 2014 

Between 2013 and first part of 2014, the Open Dialog Foundation organized a number of visits to international organisations and institutions, as well as national parliaments of the EU member states, inviting political opposition, activists, human rights defenders, representatives of NGOs, independent media and lawyers from Kazakhstan, Ukraine and Russia. Concretely, ODF organized:

- 12 visits to Brussels for meetings and conferences at the European Parliament, European Commission and the European External Action Service, as well as events organized in collaboration with other NGOs within the framework of the works carried out by the EU;

ODF’s guests met with some of the most important politicians and representatives of the EU in Brussels, including the Chair of AFET (Foreign Affairs) Committee, the Chair of the DROI Subcommittee, Chair of the DCAS delegation, Chair of the D-UA (EU-Ukraine) delegation, numerous MEPs – rapporteurs on relevant reports and resolutions, shadow rapporteurs, heads of the relevant geographical and thematic (eg. human rights) divisions within the EEAS and EC, geographical and thematic officers from numerous EU member states’ Permanent Representations in Brussels and more. On many occasions, ODF’s guests were invited to speak at DROI hearings and exchanges of views in the EP or at conferences organized in the EP.

- 9 visits to Rome for meetings with MPs, MFA, NGOs and media; particularly strong campaign was carried out with regard to the case that happened in Italy – that of the wife of a Kazakh dissident, Mr Mukhtar Ablyazov, Mrs Alma Shalabayeva, who was illegally expelled from Italy, along with a 6-year old daughter Ms Alua Ablyazova and sent to Kazakhstan;

ODF organized numerous hearings and events in the Italian Parliament – for MPs and senators, and outside – open to general public, as well as direct meetings with key politicians and organisations in Italy, at which invited guests from Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Russia provided fist-hand information on their own cases and other they advocated for. ODF has also organized expert events on the issue of misuse of INTERPOL by non-democratic states, with the participation of local and international experts.

- 9 visits to Paris for meetings MPs, MFA, NGOs and media; particularly strong campaign was carried out with regard to the case happening in France – that of Mr Mukhtar Ablyazov, Kazakh dissident, in detention in France and risking extradition to Russia or Ukraine, Ms Zinaida Mukhortova, Kazakh lawyer who faced repeated forced psychiatric detention and treatment in Kazakhstan for her anti-corruption activity, planned Mistral deal and the Russian aggression on Ukraine;

ODF organized numerous press briefings and direct meetings with the French media both for ODF President, as well as our guests from Kazakhstan, Ukraine and Russia. Direct meetings with MPs, senators and other NGOs have been organized on a regular basis. ODF has also co-organized numerous conferences on issues related to human rights restrictions and abuses in the countries of focus, as well as an event on the issue of misuse of INTERPOL by non-democratic states, all of them with the participation of guests from the EU and from the countries of focus: Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Russia.

- 8 visits to Strasbourg for meetings with MEPs at the occasion of the European Parliament’s plenary session or members of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) during its the part sessions, and conferences/side-events;

These visits translated into raising the profile of ODF as an expert organization dealing with human rights related issues in Kazakhstan, Ukraine and Russia, as well as directly prompted the resolution, tabled by MP Mr Pieter Omtzigt, in which he was requesting a report to be drafted by PACE on the issue of misuse of INTERPOL by authoritarian states and the need for stronger legal safeguards. The resolution, subsequently, also thanks to the information campaign carried out by ODF, got further backing and was adopted, which led to the drafting of the report on this very topic, which is now under preparation.

- 4 visits to Czech Republic in relation to advocacy campaign for Ms Tatiana Paraskevich, victim of the practice of misusing the INTERPOL system by non-democratic states (Russia, Ukraine), which requested her extradition for political reasons. Visits included meeting Ms Paraskevich at the place of her detention, meeting government officials, diplomats, journalists, NGOs, family members of the detainee, organizing press briefings;

Visits translated into raising the profile of Ms Paraskevich’s case, numerous publications on the issue, as well as establishing ODF’s position as an expert NGO on issues related to extraditions, and human rights in Kazakhstan, Ukraine and Russia.

- 11 visits to Madrid for meetings with MPs, diplomats, lawyers, journalists and NGOs, as part conducting street campaign in favor of liberating Mr Alexandr Pavlov, an associate of the Kazakh political opposition and the independent mass-media, whose extradition was requested by Kazakhstan. ODF representatives were also visiting Spain upon invitation by Spanish organizations (Fundación Internacional Baltasar Garzón) and lawyers to participate in human-rights-related conferences, when organizing informative events with local partners (Reporters Without Borders), as well as to provide expertise in relation to situation of the justice systems in Kazakhstan at court hearings;

ODF established regular contact with the Spanish MPs and the prominent partners from the field of human rights (Amnesty International Spain, Fundación Abogacía Española). Thanks to ODF’s efforts partners had a chance to meet wide circle of Kazakh dissidents, human right defenders, journalists and other experts. ODF’s activity translated into the increase in public awareness about human rights issues in Central Asia, as well as into critical coverage of some aspects of economic diplomacy of Spain.

- 3 visits to London for meetings with MPs, NGOs, media and for events co-organized by ODF. ODF has co-organized an event in the British Parliament focused on the issue of misuse of INTERPOL by non-democratic states, it has also organized a series of meetings with local organisations and politicians to discuss the issues of human rights violations and corruption in the countries of focus;

ODF has engaged in cooperation with local NGOs and actors, such as an NGO – Fair Trials International, as well as the Hermitage Capital and Mr Bill Browder, which has brought fruit in further joint activities not only in UK but also on a broader international level;

- 3 visits to Geneva for meetings with UN member states’ Permanent Missions, as well as organization of side events during UN Human Rights Council sessions. ODF organized a series of direct meetings with a number of representatives of the member states’ Permanent Missions to UN of mainly the EU member states, the US and Canada in order to discuss and provide first-hand information on human rights situation and concerns, as well as individual cases;

Such meetings, as well as side events organized at the UN provide a unique opportunity of addressing directly a large group of member states, who can, then, take the information to their respective MFAs and shape the policy towards the countries of focus with a broad picture of the situation in the country;

- 1 visit to The Hague for meetings with relevant stakeholders, MPs and NGOs in order to discuss possible cooperation and present ODF’s work on the issues of human rights abuses in the countries of focus, promotion of democracy development and the rule of law in the post-Soviet region;

Results:

As a result of direct meetings with politicians, dozens of letters and statements of support have been written, sent and published by MEPs and national MPs and senators – both on the general human rights situation in the countries of focus, as well as on individual cases (eg. Mr Vladimir Kozlov, Kazakh oppositionist currently in detention, Ms Roza Tuletayeva, Kazakh leader of the oil workers’ movement, detained and tortured after tragic Zhanaozen events, Mr Vadim Kuramshin, Kazakh human rights defender and lawyer, currently in prison, Ms Zinaida Mukhortova, Kazakh lawyer, regularly placed under forced psychiatric treatment for her anti-corruption activities, Ms Nadiya Savchenko, Ukrainian pilot, illegaly detained in Russia, Mr Oleg Sentsov, Ukrainian movie director from Crimea, illegally kidnapped and detained in Russia and many more).

Moreover, written questions to national governments and to the European Commission/European External Action Service have been sent, requesting explanation and additional information on the most worrying cases of human rights abuses (eg. written question on human rights violations in Kazakhstan sent to the Italian MFA, numerous written questions sent by MEPs to the European External Action Service and the High Representative/Vice-President Mrs Catherine Ashton and, subsequently, Mrs Federica Mogherini, written questions to the governments on concrete cases of Mr Alexandr Pavlov and Mr Mukhtar Ablyazov, respectively in Spain and France). Such interventions place additional political pressure on the EU member states to take into account human rights violations and restrictions to democracy in countries they dialogue with, often in great part focused on economic cooperation. In long-term, this can bring about positive shift in the internal politics of the non-democratic states, which are sensitive about how they are being perceived abroad and might permit more civil freedoms in order to maintain positive relations with the partner countries.

Thanks to the organization of direct meetings, important information, pertinent to key cases and areas of problem have been included in a number of national parliaments’ and the European Parliament’s resolutions on topics and countries of focus, eg. when the European Parliament adopted a resolution on the critical human rights situation in Kazakhstan after the tragic events in Zhanaozen in December 2011 or a resolution with its recommendations for the negotiations of the Enhanced Partnership and Cooperation Agreement between EU and Kazakhstan, or an urgent resolution on the case of Ms Savchenko and more.

Our actions prompted the release of individuals:

  • Mr Igor Vinyavskiy, former editor-in-chief of an independent Kazakh newspaper “Vzglyad”
  • Mrs Tuletayeva, one of the leaders of the Zhanaozen strike movement
  • Mrs Zinaida Mukhortova, Kazakh lawyer, regularly placed under forced psychiatric treatment for her anti-corruption activities

Furthermore, direct meetings with representatives of the European External Action Service provided opportunities for frank exchanges and made it possible to inform the relevant officers of all key factors in the developments in the countries. Such exchanges have prompted, on numerous occasions, direct interventions by the EU Delegations in the countries of focus, whose representatives, following such meetings and information obtained, requested explanations from local authorities or a possibility to meet with political prisoners and followed closely the trials and developments in the cases, indicating their direct concern and interest.

All of the above has in many cases prompted the release of individuals (eg. Mr Igor Vinyavskiy, former editor-in-chief of an independent Kazakh newspaper “Vzglyad”, Ms Tuletayeva), the slight improvement of their conditions of detention (eg. Mr Kuramshin, Mr Kozlov), the organization of observation missions to trials in Kazakhstan (eg. for Mr Kozlov’s trial), Russia (eg. for Ms Savchenko’s trial) or the international fact-finding missions (in cooperation with the Polish Bar Association to Kazakhstan).

Another measurable result of organized events, meetings and afterwards political interventions were granting of political asylum, refugee status or other kind of international protection to several dissidents Mr Alexandr Pavlov in Spain, Mr Muratbek Ketebayev in Spain and Poland, Ms Tatiana Paraskevich in the Czech Republic or Mrs Alma Shalabayeva in Italy.

Key guests of ODF over the last years:

  • Mr Yevgeniy Zhovtis (Director of the Kazakhstan International Bureau for Human Rights and Rule of Law),
  • Mrs Irina Petrushova (Kazakh journalist of ‘Respublika’ newspaper),
  • Mr Bolat Atabayev (Kazakh theater director, dissident and political refugee in Germany),
  • Mrs Alma Shalabayeva (wife of a Kazakh dissident, Mr Mukhtar Ablyazov, political refugee in Italy),
  • Ms Zinaida Mukhortova (Kazakh human rights and anti-corruption lawyer),
  • Mr Igor Vinyavskiy (former editor-in-chief of a Kazakh newspaper “Vzglyad”, dissident in Poland),
  • Mr Muratbek Ketebayev (member of political opposition, one of the well-known political commentators, refugee in Poland),
  • Mr Vladimir Kozlov (leader of the Kazakh opposition movement, currently imprisoned following a trial on trumped-up charges),
  • Ms Aliya Turusbekova (wife of the imprisoned Kazakh opposition leader, Mr Vladimir Kozlov),
  • Mr Tomasz Makowski (Member of the parliament, Poland),
  • Mr Wojciech Mądrzycki (lawyer, expert in asylum and extradition law),
  • Mr Pavel Zabelin (Russian political refugee in the USA),
  • Ms Vira Savchenko (sister of Ukrainian political prisoner in Russia, Ms Nadiya Savchenko),
  • Mr Yegor Sobolev (member of Ukrainian parliament, Chairperson of the Committee on Corruption Prevention and Counteraction),
  • Mr Garry Kasparov (Russian opposition leader),
  • Mr Pavel Zaczek (co-founder and first President of the Czech Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes in Prague),
  • Mr Radosław Peterman (Vetting Office, Polish Institute of National Remembrance (IPN)),
  • Mr Mark Feygin (Russian lawyer, defender in high-profile cases, including that of Ms Nadiya Savchenko),
  • Ms Nadejda Atayeva (Uzbek refugee in France, President of the Association Human Rights in Central Asia),
  • Ms Ruslana Lyzhychko (Ukrainian singer and pro-Ukrainian activist),
  • representatives of EuroMaidanSOS NGO from Ukraine: Ms Maria Tomak, Ms Alissa Novitchkova, Ms Solomia Bobrovska and others,
  • Mr Andrey Ilarionov (representative of CATO Institute and former adviser to Russian president Vladimir Putin, currently an active critic of Putin’s politics),
  • Mr Vitalii Kuprii (Member of Verkhovna Rada - Ukrainian parliament),
  • Ms Oleksandra Drik (representative of the Civic Lustration Committee of Ukraine NGO).