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Members of the European Parliament appeal to Interpol to stop political prosecution of Kazakh dissidents and activists

Members of the European Parliament Mrs Julie Ward (S&D; UK), Mrs Marju Lauristin (S&D; Estonia), Mr Tomáš Zdechovský (EPP; the Czech Republic/Czechia) and Mr Tunne Kelam (EPP; Estonia) have addressed in a joint letter the Commission for the Control of Interpol’s Files (CCF) and Secretary General of Interpol concerning the abuse of international arrest warrants by Kazakhstani authorities. In the letter MEPs raise particular concern for the political prosecution against the Kazakh political dissident and refugee Mukhtar Ablyazov’s associates within the BTA Bank case and Mr Anatoliy Pogorelov, former top manager of the Kazakhstani BTA Bank, whose name has been placed on the Red Notice list on the request of Kazakhstan. MEPs emphasise that “several EU member states adopted more than ten decisions, denying the extradition of Ablyazov’s colleagues to Kazakhstan, Ukraine and Russia”. They also add: “international protection has been granted to most of the persons who were linked to Mr Ablyazov’s activities; thus, proving the politically motivated context of the case”.

In this intervention, parliamentarians welcome Interpol’s recent achievements and cooperation with civil society but urge Interpol about the need for preventive mechanisms to avoid similar situations in the future. Emphasis on Mr Pogorelov’s case is also stressed due to the fact that, as he was not able to reach a safe country, he cannot benefit from political asylum there. In this regards, MEPs ask the Interpol’s CCF and Secretary General what kind of guarantee mechanisms they intend to activate in such cases, when victims of political prosecution cannot count on international protection in their current place of stay.

In another letter, MEPs Mr Tunne Kelam and Mr Kazimierz Michał Ujazdowski (ECR; Poland) appeal to High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the European Commission Mrs Federica Mogherini and the European External Action Service/European Commission “to call on Kazakhstani authorities to immediately stop the unlawful persecutions” against “representatives of civil society, activists, counsels, journalists and opposition voices in the country”.

MEPs state that recent wave of repression, mass arrests and detentions are a violation of human rights and civil liberties of Kazakh citizens. Unlawful reprisals have lately involved a Kazakh journalist Mr Zhanbolat Mamay, editor of the opposition newspaper ‘Tribuna’; oil workers and labour union leaders Mr Amin Eleusinov and Mr Nurbek Qushaqbaev and civic activits Mr Talgat Ayan and Mr Maks Bokayev. Deputies also notice that the re-starting of criminal prosecution against former top managers and employees of the BTA Bank is significant and politically motivated. Kazakhstani authorities prosecute Mr Ablyazov’s associates “by means of kidnappings, psychological pressure, psychical abuse, manipulated trials and interference in other countries’ judiciary systems”.

In the light of the Enhanced Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (EPCA) signed between the EU and Kazakhstan in December 2015 (its provisional application started on 1 May, 2016); the signatory MEPs calls upon the European institutions to oversee the current human rights situation in the country.