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MEPs continue to appeal the Ukrainian authorities regarding Zhanara Akhmetova’s case

On May 26, 2020, seven MEPs addressed Ukrainian President Zelensky, Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova and the Head of the State Migration Service Maksym Sokoliuk with an appeal demanding the reevaluation of Zhanara Akhmetova’s asylum application and halting her extradition. Zhanara Akhmetova – a Kazakhstani journalist and oppositionist – and her 12-year-old son risk deportation from Ukraine as a consequence of the Supreme Court’s decision on May 14, 2020, which overturned its previous instance and rejected her asylum application.

In the letter, the MEPs expressed their concerns that “the Migration Service of Ukraine and the Supreme Court had refused to take into consideration the political context of her prosecution”. Kazakhstani authorities seek Akhmetova’s extradition in retaliation for her journalistic and political activities with the “Democratic Choice of Kazakhstan” peaceful opposition movement, hence the letter reiterated that the extradition to her homeland would have grave consequences for her physical health and there is no guarantee that her right to a fair trial would be respected. Furthermore, the MEPs questioned the way in which the hearing was carried out as the decision was taken without Akhmetova’s lawyer and she was informed about it with significant delay.

The undersigned MEPs, namely the Chairman of the EP’s Subcommittee on Human Rights Maria Arena (S&D, Belgium), Brando Benifei (S&D, Italy), Raphaël Glucksmann (S&D, France), Nacho Sánchez Amor (S&D, Spain), Isabel Santos (S&D, Portugal), Róża Thun (EPP, Poland) and Tomáš Zdechovský (EPP, Czech Republic) appealed to President Zelensky to grant Akhmetova and her son political asylum, in line with Article 106 paragraph 26 of the Constitution of Ukraine. They also highlighted that Ukraine should fully comply with the relevant international agreements during the process. In this way, the seven MEPs joined the appeal of their colleagues, members of the European Parliament’s  ‘Friends of European Ukraine’ informal group.

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