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Open Dialog Foundation: Response to the defamatory campaign by alleged “indipendent” Kazakh NGO

Balli Marzec recently addressed the ODF and MEPs with whom we met during the Strasbourg week in February, 2017, via an email with the subject “True opposition have nothing in common with Ablyazov”. In the email, Marzec called into question the political context related to Mukhtar Ablyazov and the BTA Bank case, claiming that Ablyazov has bribed politicians and journalists via his “mercenaries” to support his case. She also stated that Ablyazov should not be considered as a “dissident” but rather as an “impostor” who has employed the “$6 billion stolen from the Kazakh people” to hire NGOs and media in selling his case as a political controversy initiated by Nazarbayev’s regime. The email referred also to other alleged ambiguities of Ablyazov’s activities and associates, without providing any reliable sources or grounds.

In regards to the defamatory accusations made by Marzec and addressed inter alia towards the Foundation; we would like to clarify our position on the issue.

Firstly, financial and factual reports on the Foundation’s activity and revenues are publicly available on our website. Budgetary reports of the Foundation are periodically submitted to the fiscal authorities and Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Poland with full accordance to the applicable regulations. 

Secondly, unjustified allegations of being “mercenaries” of Ablyazov are just part of a broader defamatory campaign that has harmed the Foundation’s independence and its image so far. In many occasions, the Foundation was precluded from cooperation and financing opportunities on the basis of these biased convictions. The Foundation has been a victim of numerous defamatory propaganda attacks and open threats for its campaigns in defence of democracy, rule of law and human rights in Kazakhstan, Russia and Ukraine (please see our statements on the issue: “Statement by the Open Dialog Foundation” and “The Open Dialog Foundation’s position as regards the anonymous study entitled ‘8 things you should know about the Open Dialog Foundation’“).

Marzec has been a vital part of these efforts for several years. On 6 October, 2016 the ODF has concluded an amicable settlement within a lawsuit with the Polish “Wprost” weekly magazine, filed by the ODF against the magazine, in connection with the publication of a material concerning the Foundation’s alleged links with ‘the oligarch from Kazakhstan‘ ( Ablyazov) in February 2014. As established during the pre-trial proceedings, not only Marzec has openly and extensively defamed the Foundation via Internet, but also was one of the main sources of the article. Other sources were notes produced by Russian and Ukrainian intelligence services at the time of Yanukovych’s governance. The counsel of the case, Wojciech Mądrzycki, confirmed that the lawsuit was acquitted by the parties and a Correction Notice was published on the weekly magazine (for further information please see: “‘Wprost’ publishes a Correction Notice regarding the violation of personal rights of the Open Dialog Foundation“). However, Marzec’s groundless allegations continue and even claims that she «was assaulted» by Lyudmyla Kozlovska, President of ODF and her colleague Bartosz Kramek in Warsaw. It comes naturally to state that we have never been involved in such actions. When the case had been discontinued by law enforcement and judicial authorities as groundless, Balli Marzec responded in accusing them of being ‘Ablyazov’s agents’.

Marzec remains renowned in Poland as a person who persistently attempts to attract attention to herself and her alleged only true opposition activities and takes advantage of producing vocal actions such as hunger strikes, announcing becoming a candidate for the post of the President of Poland, severe beating by Polish police, fake news and other sort of misinformation. It is not uncommon for Marzec to openly insult and publicly accuse others (including prominent politicians and official state bodies of different countries) of being mercenaries, thieves, false opposition, paid by Ablyazov etc. Some of her above-mentioned activities via websites and social media could be read at Wspólnota Kazachska Association’s website and below:

ENG: “Kazakh Tiananmen #Nazarbayev in Warsaw. The Khan annihilated the opposition. Alone against dictatorship #Kazakhstan”

ENG: “The Open Dialog Foundation’s money comes from the impostor, oligarch Ablyazov. [It] buys military equipment and politicians. Prepares to take power and coup? #FOD”

ENG: “Polish people do not follow politics. Open Dialog Foundation takes over #Poland. They have politicians, journalists, they will take over army and police. Alleluya”

As seen above, one of the primary channels of such communication has been Marzec official websites and social media profiles where plenty of such messages could be found in Balli Marzec and “Wspólnota Kazachska” Association websites or in her twitter page.

Lastly, the Foundation is not concerned with the validity of the accusations that Ablyazov faces but rather questions the misuse of justice and the methods through which Kazakhstan prosecute critics of Nazarbayev’s regime. It is established in our statutory goals to promote the respect of fundamental rights in the post-Soviet region, as well the right to a fair trial and access to justice in these countries. So far, the Foundation has supported and met with different opposition parties, representatives from the government administration, NGOs and mass-media in Kazakhstan, not necessarily linked to Ablyazov’s activities. Our commitment in regards to Ablyazov’s case is only to ensuring him an honest and fair trial.