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Reply from the Kazakh authorities to the letter from Święcicki on the conditions in which A. Atabek and V. Kuramshin are detained

The Prison Service Committee at the Kazakh Ministry of Internal Affairs has replied to the letter from Marcin Święcicki, MP, concerning the Kazakh dissidents Vadim Kuramshin and Aron Atabek. In their reply, the Kazakh authorities provide an unrealistic vision of idyllic conditions in Kazakh prisons.

In his letter, Święcicki, MP, expressed his concern about the situation of Aron Atabek and Vadim Kuramshin, who are exposed to abuse from the prison authorities. In its reports, the Open Dialog Foundation provided information more than once about the poor condition of Atabek’s health and his being denied medical care by the prison authorities. Vadim Kuramshin is also under continuous pressure; in order to receive medical care, he was forced in 2014, several times, to announce a hunger strike. However, in his reply, the Deputy Chair of the Prison Service Committee, Azamat Bazylbekov, denies, among other things, that Atabekov was not given medical care.

In the opinion of the Kazakh authorities, on the 17th July 2014, Atabek had a CT scan of his left knee. After a consultation with a doctor, a recommendation was supposedly made for the activist to walk on crutches and take pain killers. At the same time – the authorities argue – Atabek is said not to have used the orthopaedic crutches and walked on his own instead. In a reply to the MP’s letter, the Deputy Chair of the Committee considers the prisoner’s condition to be “satisfactory” and also confirms that there are no reasons for the inmate to go to hospital. Atabek is supposedly under daily supervision by the physician on duty.

Regarding the situation of Vadim Kuramshin, during 2014 – as indicated by the letter – he was allowed to have nine meetings with his lawyer. However, Kuramshin was deprived of any privacy during the meetings with his defence lawyer, which the authorities explained was due to the need to ensure his security. With the lack of cameras, a member of the facility’s staff remained in an adjoining room throughout the activist’s talks with his lawyer. The Deputy Chair of the Committee argues, however, that the staff “did not disturb the confidentiality of the conversation at all”. Further on, in order to emphasise the alleged “humanitarian nature” of the Kazakh penitentiary system, Bazylbekov also lists the number of meetings with his wife which Kuramshin was allowed to have.