Monitoring of the socio-political situation in Kazakhstan

  • 09.11.2012
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Human rights

In the penal settlement AP 162/10 (the Shiderty village, Pavlodar Province), a 25-year-old inmate, Sabina Makhinina, went on hunger-strike on the 10th of October. It was a sign of protest against her battery and sexual harressment by the authority of the penal colony. Human rights activists are now verifying these statements and once again drawing attention to the closed nature of the penitentiary system in Kazakhstan, which does not allow investigation into the violations of the prisoners’ rights.

As stated by Sabina Makhinina, the head of the operating unit, Serik Aubakirov, forced her to report everything that was happening in the women's barracks, and then tried to rape her. The inmate claims that she was provoked into a fight, and then forbidden to work in the colony. When Makhina asked to be given a job, Bulat Nabiyev, the head of the prison refused to provide a job for her. As a result, she wrote a complaint to the Committee of the Correctional System (CCS). After that, Bulat Nabiyev and Serik Aubakirov began to threaten her and Serik Aubakirov’s fellow slipped her drugs, after which she was penalised for being intoxicated. After a two-week hunger strike in protest, on the 24th of October, 2012, Sabina Makhinina was taken to hospital in Ekibastuz (Pavlodar Province).

On the 30th of October, 2012, Sabina Makhinina suspended her hunger strike as her health condition had deteriorated severely. She declared that she would resume the strike, if she considers the results of the internal investigation into the battery and harassment to be unfair. Sabina Makhinina will soon be delivered to the prison again - the regional office of the CCES announced.

As a result of inspections, the authorities found no evidence in support of the above mentioned allegations. Head of the CCES Department of Pavlodar Province explained that Makhinina’s behavior is caused by the fact that she wants to avoid a return to a closed prison, to which she is going to be sent as a punishment for a number of violations.

As stated by the head of the civil association ‘Committee for Monitoring Penal Reform and Human Rights’, Svetlana Kovlyagina, in such cases it it difficult to find out the truth due to the fact that Kazakh special institutions are closed.

Freedom of mass media

Pressure on independent media organisations and provocations, organised against him by the authorities once again confirm the existence of serious problems with freedom of speech in Kazakhstan. The international community callsupontheauthorities to draw attention to the oppression of freedom of speech in Kazakhstan and to objectively investigate the brutal attacks on journalists.

On the 29th of October, 2012, the editorial staff of the newspapers ‘Golos Respubliki’ and ‘Vzglyad’ announced that they had filed an appeal to the Mangistau Regional Court as a third party. They demanded revocation of statements on the ‘extremist nature of the activity of their newspapers’, which they consider false, from Vladimir Kozlov’s case file. Lest we forget that in the parts pertaining to the case summary and decision of the court sentence, the court stated: "The analysis of the objects, presented for examination, showed that the conceptual content of the materials in the TV channel 'K +', the web portals 'Stan-TV', 'Respublika', the newspapers: 'Respublika', 'Golos Respubliki', 'Vzglyad', is aimed at inciting social discord and the initiator of this action is M. Ablyazov”. Therefore, these mass media’s materials constitute the cause of the riots of the 16th December, 2011." At the same time, the accusations against the media were made without any preliminary court proccedings, no evidence that their activities are of an extremist nature, was presented. Earlier, the prosecutor's office did not file criminal charges against these media. In the court verdict, no reference is made to the media materials that do not meet the legal requirements.

On the 1st of November, 2012, during a meeting with Minister of Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan Yerlan Idrisov, OSCE representative for press freedom Dunja Mijatovic urged the authorities to reform the criminal and civil codes so that they are brought into accordance with democratic principles. In particular, she underlined the necessity to abolish the regulation on criminal prosecution for libel. Also, Dunja Mijatovic urged to pay special attention to the attacks on journalists and to carry out a thorough investigation into these cases.

Earlier, on the 9th of August, 2012, in Astana, a violent attack was carried out against journalist, Ularbek Baytaylak, and as a consequence, he was seriously injured. Articles by this journalist were published in the opposition newspaper ‘Dat’, in the newspaper ‘Chetvyortaya Vlast’” (‘The Fourth Estate’) and the magazine ‘Altyn Tamyr’. The human rights organisation, Freedom House stated that a thorough investigation is required in the case of the beaten journalist.

 In Kazakhstan, government officials have filed claims against journalists in court on unsubstantiated charges of libel, forcing the latter to pay exorbitant monetary compensations. Thus, the justice system became a way to exert pressure on the news media.

 On the 9th of November, 2012, Financial Police officer Arman Kozhakhmetov won a lawsuit against the newspaper ‘Uralskaya Nedelya’ (‘The Ural Week’), against its journalist Lukpan Akhmedyarov and respondent Makhambet Koneyev, who was interviewed by the journalist. The Uralsk City Court ordered the defendants to recant information about the criminal past of Arman Kozhakhmetov and to pay him 1.5 million tenge (about 8 thousand euros).

On the 27th of July, 2012, the ‘Uralskaya Nedelya’ newspaper published an article about Lukpan Akhmedyarov entitled ‘Three people with criminal records were identified in the authorities in a West Kazakhstan Province’. The article refers to the sensational murder of Oralbek Kuzhageldin, founder of Sports School ‘Syrym’. On the 6th of June, 1999, Oralbek Kuzhageldin was attacked by three men, shot with a gas pistol, taken into the car and driven to an unspecified destination, after which his body was found with signs of torture.

Lukpan Akhmedyarov interviewed a resident of the Syrym District (West Kazakhstan) Makhambet Koneyev, who was the only witness to the murder. The witness, together with the deceased, received numerous stab wounds, but managed to survive. Makhambet Koneyev identified eight participants of the incident, but the court convicted only one of the accused. Others have been transferred into the category of witnesses (including the financial police officer Armand Kozhakhmetov).

In a conversation with Lukpan Akhmedyarov, Makhambet Koneyev said that he could point to people whom he considered thugs. Among the attackers, whom the witness had seen, was Abzal Braliyev, Deputy Akim of the Terektinsky Region, and Arman Kozhakhmetov - financial police officer.

Newspaper journalists received a comment from Arman Kozhakhmetov, in which he denied any involvement in the murder; contrarily, he considered himself a victim of this incident (Arman Kozhakhmetov participated in that fight and was beaten up.)

Journalist Lukpan Akhmedyarov did not call Armand Kozhakhmetov a killer, but raised the question, "Should people with such a past be in power?”

Journalists tried to get a comment from Abzal Braliyev, who was mentioned in the publication, but he refused to contact them. On the 5th of October, 2012, Abzal Braliyev also filed a lawsuit against the newspaper and Lukpan Akhmedyarov, demanding denial of the information and payment of 10 million tenge (52 thousand euros) as compensation for him.

Earlier, on the 2nd of October, 2012, the Board of Appeals of the West Kazakhstan Province Court ordered the Lukpan Akhmedyarov and the newspaper ‘Uralskaya Nedelya’ to pay 5 million tenge (26 thousand euros) to the head of domestic policy of the Ural Province Tlekkabyl Imashev. On the 2nd of February, 2012, Lukpan Akhmedyarov published an article entitled ‘My brother, my friend and cronyism’, which stated that T. Imashev, a former Physical Education teacher, is a relative of former Prime Minister Imangali Tasmagambetov. T. Imashev considered himself victimised and demanded that the information about his relationship with Tasmagambetov be recanted, and his photo, “published without permission”, be deleted.

On the 19th of April, 2012, in Uralsk, Lukpan Akhmedyarov was beaten, received eight stab wounds in close proximity to his heart and two wounds from a non-lethal weapon. The journalist claimed that the article ‘My brother, my friend and cronyism’ was potentially a reason for the attack he sufferred.

 The National Security Committee is trying to put pressure on an independent journalist by detaining his brother on false charges. An anonymous source warned the editorial staff of the Golos Respubliki’ against other possible provocations that the NSC is preparing to carry out against its journalists.

The Open Dialog Foundation has previously reported that on the 31st of October, 2012, the National Security Committee (NSC) arrested Askar Moldashev, the older brother of the president of the company – a publisher of the ‘Golos Respubliki’ Daniyar Moldashev. He is suspected of possessing drugs on a large scale with intent to distribute (Article 259, section 3, paragraph "v" of the Criminal Code).

However, it is well known that Askar has never used drugs or sold them. The editorial staff of the ‘Golos Respubliki’ believes that in this way the KNB wants to exert pressure on Daniyar Moldashev, who had previously been forced into hiding abroad because of persecution by the NSC.

According to the detainee, they put a bag over his head, put him in a car with state number plates, covered his hands and palms with an unknown substance and put something in his pockets. Five minutes later he was presented before an investigator and witnesses.

On the same day, the NSC conducted a search in Askar Moldashev’s apartment and in his parents’ apartment not having presented a search order.  The NSC tried to plant a bag with a powder in the apartment; they also demanded that the wife of Askar Moldashev sign a document stating that her husband had been arrested for possession of drugs. During the search, computers and disks were seized, but nothing that would directly connect them with the allegation (i.e. drugs) was found.

As reported by counsel, Inessa Kisileva, despite Askar Moldashev’s demands, the NSC has not provided him with a lawyer and his relatives were not notified of his place of stay.  Instead, the detainee was offered cooperation, that would consist of passing on information about the sources that provide financial means to the newspaper ‘Golos Respubliki’ After Askar Moldashev refused to do so, the NSC began to threaten him that they would bring him to criminal responsibility. It is already known that at Askar Moldashev’s apartment, allegedly, ecstasy tablets were found.

On the 2nd of November, 2012, the court sanctioned Askar Moldashev’s arrest for the period of two months. 

 Terrorism

In the investigation into the killing of 14 soldiers and a hunter, committed at the border post "Arkankergen" in the Almaty region on the 28th of May, 2012, new cases of violations have been revealed.

 On the 12th of October, 2012, investigator Lt. Col. Samat Syrlybaev reported that on the 11th of October, 2012, Vladislav Chelakh attempted suicide. On the 15th of October, 2012, Svetlana Vaschenko, Chelakh’s mother, reported that during the meeting with her son she was able to look at his body, but she found no external signs of cuts, punctures or bruises. During a conversation with his mother, the accused refused to talk about the suicide attempt, since the conversation was being recorded and may be used in the case file.

Let us remind ourselves that Vladislav Chelakh is accused of assassinating 14 soldiers and a hunter on the 28th of May, 2012 at the ‘Arkankergen’ border post in the Almaty Province. Earlier, the Open Dialog Foundation reported incidents of torture and psychological pressure being exerted on the accused. It also announced that the DNA testing excluded the official version of the prosecution.

Serik Sarsenov, Vladislav Chelakh’s other counsel, having read the three volumes of classified material in the criminal case, declared on the 19th of October, 2012 that there are instances of falsification of some evidence being used to prove Chelakh’s guilt. Moreover, as stated by the counsel, the defendant was deceitfully forced to sign a document confirming that ‘familiarisation with the case file had been completed’. On the 31st of October, 2012, Vladislav Chelakh’s case was filed in court.  

But on the 6th of November, 2012, Serik Sarsenov announced that in connection with the violation of Vladislav Chelakh’s constitutional rights for defence and qualified assistance, he is preparing a request to return the case for further investigation.

 Corruption

On the 15th of October, 2012 at the ‘Urlyutobe’ post on the Kazakh-Russian border in the Pavlodar Province, a scuffle between border guards and financial police workers broke out. As a result, cross-border traffic was paralysed for several hours.

Financial Police, suspecting an employee of the post of corruption, conducted search operations during which guards showed physical resistance.

For resisting the authorities, acting chief of the post, Nurzhan Muratov, as well as three border workers were detained and arrested. As reported by Nurzhan Muratov, his wife said that the financial police officers presented no search order which would legitimise their search operations, so the acting head of the post gave the command to prevent the invasion of the protected facility.

The wife of Nurzhan Muratov used her husband’s connections to find out that the financial police attacked the facility in order to increase the statistics of crime detection and the worker Yerlan Raisov, suspected by them, was a "victim" as he had no connections that could protect him.

On the 2nd and 3rd of November, 2012, the acting chief of the post Nurzhan Muratov, as well as three border workers were released from custody. The investigator of the military investigation department of the Interior Ministry of Kazakhstan, Viktor Korzun, declared that the investigation continued, and that further arrests might be carried out.

Advisor to the Director of the Border Guard Service of the National Security Committee (NSC), Major-General Marat Mardenov labelled the conflict between border guards and financial police ‘childish hooliganism’.

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