Hot topics:

The hearing of the Supreme Court on the case of Vladimir Kozlov has been postponed again

Preliminary consideration of Vladimir Kozlov’s supervisory complaint, which had been scheduled for the 1 July, 2013, didn’t take place. For the second time, the Supreme Court adjourned proceedings. Kazakhstan and international observers labelled the decision:further proof of the political nature of the case against Vladimir Kozlov.

On 1 July, 2013, representatives of the embassies of the European Union (Elżbieta Horoszko), USA (Jessica Yarchev, Perizat Zhakupova), France and Austria, members of the Polish Sejm (Marcin Święcicki, Tomasz Makowski, Piotr Cieśliński and Adam Rybakowicz), Kazakh independent journalists (Zhanar Kasymbekova), human rights defenders (Galim Ageleuov, Zauresh Battalova), civil activists (Yerlan Kaliyev) and politicians (Aktota Yelyubayeva) gathered near the building of the Supreme Court of Kazakhstan. The lawsuit had been proclaimed open; still, none of those who arrived at the meeting were permitted to enter the building. Just 10 minutes before the scheduled commencement of the trial, independent observers were informed that the preliminary consideration of the supervisory complaint had been postponed indefinitely.

Judge Marat Doshegenov explained to the lawyer that the hearing was postponed due to the fact that the court had decided to additionally bring the criminal case file from the Mangistau Regional Court of the city of Aktau, where Vladimir Kozlov had been convicted. Apparently, the court wishes to examine the counsel’s arguments, stated in the supervisory appeal. The date and time of the preliminary consideration of the supervisory appeal shall be communicated later. The counsel, Venera Sarsembina, admitted that the Supreme Court has the right to make such a decision. However, such actions of the Supreme Court raised concern among the deputies of the Polish Sejm. According to them, “the lack of the case file must have been known to the Court at the moment when the hearing was appointed.

The observers demanded that a meeting be arranged with Judge Marat Doshegenov, but the spokeswoman of the court was the only representative of the court who came out to meet with them. However, she failed to give her name, once again announcing the postponement of the hearing and declining to comment.

Initially, the hearing of the Supreme Court should have been held on 24 June, 2013, but was postponed until 1 July, 2013. Independent observers have expressed their outrage with the fact that the judges keep changing the date of the preliminary examination of the case, claiming that they are not prepared to hold the meeting. The President of the civic organisation “Foundation for the Development of Parliamentarianism in Kazakhstan”, Zauresh Battalova, believes that the Supreme Court made a political decision to postpone the meeting as Vladimir Kozlov’s case has received wide international publicity.  Member of the International Committee “Zhanaozen-2011”, Yerlan Kaliyev, stated that in this case, political motivation evidently prevails over the evidence base of the charges. Aliya Turusbekova, the wife of Vladimir Kozlov, also believes that the postponement of the hearing stems from the lack of a final political decision regarding any adjustment  to Vladimir Kozlov’s sentence. The representative of the Communist Party of Kazakhstan, Aktota Yelyubayeva, has noted that on 1 July, 2013, the Supreme Court was visited by numerous diplomatic representatives. Therefore, by postponing the date of the hearing regarding the supervisory appeal, the Supreme Court is striving to avoid publicity during the consideration of the political case of Vladimir Kozlov.

On 1 July, 2013, members of the Polish Sejm, namely: Marcin Święcicki, Piotr Cieśliński, Tomasz Makowski and Adam Rybakowicz who had come with the observation mission to the trial of Vladimir Kozlov, issued an official letter to the Chairman of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, Wolfgang Grossruk, in which they expressed their hope that the remaining course of the case regarding Vladimir Kozlov will be held in full compliance with democratic standards. in the future examination of the case against Vladimir Kozlov will be held in accordance with democratic standards”. Moreover, Marcin Święcicki stated: “The trials with political overtones (and Vladimir Kozlov’s trial is considered to be such by the European community) are often susceptible to pressure and manipulation by authoritarian regimes, so these situations require the presence of people who are able to monitor the observance of democratic processes” .

The opposition politician, Vladimir Kozlov, has been held captive since 23 January, 2012. Kazakh civil activists and human rights defenders put him on the list of current political prisoners in Kazakhstan (the list also includes Aron Atabek, Vadim Kuramshin, Aleksandr Kharlamov, Roza Tuletayeva and Maksat Dosmagambetov). The existence of political prisoners is unacceptable in a country which is a member of the UN Council on Human Rights and which ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

In its Resolution on Kazakhstan of 17 April, 2013, the European Parliament deemed Vladimir Kozlov’s case politically motivated and expressed doubts as to the fairness of the court proceedings with regard to the oppositionist. Also, “Human Rights Watch”, “Freedom House”, “Amnesty International” and the U.S. State Department have expressed their strong condemnation of the guilty verdict against Vladimir Kozlov.

The Open Dialog Foundation hopes that the forthcoming review of the case by the Supreme Court will result in nothing less than the acquittal of the opposition politician, as this is a unique opportunity for the Kazakh authorities to prove their commitment to the European values such as the rule of law and political pluralism. In view of the widespread interest in the case of Vladimir Kozlov among Kazakh citizens and the international community, we also urge the authorities to ensure publicity of the trial.