Following the conviction of the leader of Kazakh democratic opposition, Vladimir Kozlov, in Kazakhstan, oppression of civil society activists has begun:
Theatre Director, Bolat Atabayev faces arrest again;
Human rights defender, Bakhyt Tumenova found wiretapping in her apartment.
Vladimir Kozlov and his lawyers have filed an appeal against the ruling, issued by the court of first instance.
‘Bolat Atabayev’s case’ is being reconsidered in the prosecutor’s office
On the 9th of October, 2012, during the visit of a renowned Theatre Director, Bolat Atabayev to Brussels during which he will take part in meetings in the European Parliament, information was made public that the criminal proceedings against him may be reumed. On the 8th of October, 2012, during the announcement of the sentencing against V. Kozlov, S. Sapargali and A. Aminov, the judge issued an intermediate order to the General Prosecutor’s Office, ordering the verification of the legitimacy of the decision to discontinue the prosecution of Bolat Atabayev. The theatre director’s counsel, Gulnar Zhandosova, does not exclude the possibility that her client could be arrested again: “If the General Prosecutor’s Office rules that a wrong decision was made regarding Atabayev, then the case, which has been discontinued, will be investigated again and it will end up in court”.
Will the NSC interrogate civil activists?
On the 15th of October, 2012, an anonymous informant told the ‘Respublika’ newspaper about the order to close independent media in Kazakhstan, as well as about the beginning of the oppression of some non-governmental organisations. As an example, he pointed to the fact that the National Security Committee began complex search operations regarding the head of ‘Aman Saulyk’ Foundation, Bakhyt Tumenova: “Apart from the independent media, including the newspapers ‘Respublika’, ‘Vzglyad’, and the TV channel ‘K+’, the next in the firing line may be the ‘Aman Saulyk’ Foundation, more precisely, its head: B. Tumenova. In this regard, I consider it my duty to warn B. Tulenova through you, that a full range of search operations has been initiated against her by the NSC- her mobile and landline phones are being tapped. Also, her apartment and the office of the foundation are tapped.”. After the publication of the statement, Bakhyt Tumenova conducted a thorough check of her apartment and found a number of devices that could be used for tapping. Human rights activist addressed the police and the local department of the National Security Committee of Kazakhstan, but she received no reply.
In addition, Bakhyt Tumenova remembered a series of strange events in recent months, which, in her opinion, may be indicative of an increased attention from the security services, “Around July, I thought that I was being under surveillance. Even my daughter said to me, “Mom, I think that the same people constantly follow you”. One time my husband and I went out, turned left, then we changed our minds and went to the right. And we were immediately struck by the behaviour of two young men who were following us. They also dramatically changed their route, exactly the way we did”, — said Bakhyt Tumenova.
These actions of the authorities can be perceived as impeding social activities and unlawful interference in private life. Further consequences of the use of wiretapping of civil society activists in Kazakhstan are already well known: it was the tapping that the evidence base was built on during the trial against opposition leaders. Does this mean that we can expect the charges against the human rights defender Bakhyt Tumenova? Today, this question remains unanswered.
An appeal in V. Kozlov’s case has been filed
Vladimir Kozlov and his counsels have appealed the trial court’s decision, according to which the leader of the unregistered party ‘Alga!’ was sentenced to 7.5 years imprisonment with confiscation of property. Counsel, Aleksey Plugov filed an appeal on the 19th of October, 2012, and Vladimir Kozlov and Venera Sarsenbina did so on the 23rd of October, 2012, on the last day of the appeal period. The exact date of consideration of the appeal claims is not yet known, but according to the legislation of the Republic of Kazakhstan, in the appellate court, the case should be reviewed no later than one month from the date of its receipt. Despite the fact that the verdict was read out on the 8th of October, 2012, the counsels and the opposition politician were handed the sentencing only on the 15th of October, 2012. According to the Criminal Procedure Code of the Republic of Kazakhstan, appeals may be filed within 15 days from the date of announcement of the verdict, and in the case of a convict who is remanded in custody – within the same period of time, counting from the date of receipt of a copy of the judgment. “In fact, the counsels were deprived of a period of one week, and they were forced to write the appeal within a very short timeframe”, – reported AliyaTurusbekova, Vladimir Kozlov’s wife.