The French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius has responded to a letter from Maddy Delvaux, currently an MEP, formerly a minister in the governments of prime ministers of Luxembourg Jacques Santer and Jean-Claude Juncker. In May, the member of the European Parliament inquired with the French prime minister and ministers of foreign affairs and justice about the case of Mukhtar Ablyazov, calling for the prevention of the extradition of the Kazakh dissident and drawing attention to the political nature of the charges brought against him. In response, Fabius denied responsibility for the case and pointed out that it is subject to resolution by the administration of justice; which was true only for a moment – by the time the response arrived, the court had issued the final verdict in the case of Ablyazov, thus bringing the legal proceedings to an end. Now, the fate of the dissident rests in the hands of the French government.
It was shortly after the issuance of the response by Fabius to the MEP from Luxembourg that Mukhtar Ablyazov received the translated version of the court’s decision, which could have constituted an official reason for the head of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs to have hidden behind justice. However, following the issuance of the verdict, the role of the court ceases. Now, the French government must consider the issue of whether Russia or Ukraine are trustworthy, as these countries have demanded the extradition of the Kazakh opposition politician and perhaps the greatest political opponent of the incumbent president Nursultan Nazarbayev. All major NGOs have unanimously concluded that the rendering of Ablyazov would pose a threat to his life. Both in Russia and Ukraine, he may not only face an unjust court trial, but also ill-treatment and torture. There are also suspicions that, via Kiev or Moscow, he would be transferred to Astana.
Should the French government issue a decision to extradite him, it would be tantamount to the legitimisation of Russian lawlessness or the justice system of Ukraine, currently undergoing turbulent political transformations and struggling with hangovers from the regime of Yanukovych. For months, the Open Dialogue Foundation has pointed to the risks associated with the extradition, and emphasised each violation of human rights in Russia and also the inadequacy of the judicial system in Ukraine.
Since December 2013, seven European countries, namely: Poland, Austria, the Czech Republic, the United Kingdom, Italy, Spain and Switzerland have refused to render Ablyazov’s former co-workers and members of their families to Russia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan, or granted them asylum or other kinds of protection. Moreover, in its decision regarding the refusal to render Alexander Pavlov (Ablyazov’s former long-term head of security, accused of kidnapping and terrorism), the Supreme Court of Spain emphasised the considerable politicisation of the case of Ablyazov.
Members of the European Parliament, national politicians and international human rights organisations, such as: Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, ACAT and FIDH have already made a stand in defence of Ablyazov.