Since the beginning of 2019, six mass protests have been reported in the largest cities of Kazakhstan (the protests were held on 27 February 2019, 21–22 March 2019, 1 May 2019, 9 May 2019, 9–12 June 2019, and 6 July 2019. The largest protests took place in Nur-Sultan, Almaty, Aktobe, Karaganda and Shymkent). Across the country, several thousand people participated in the protests, and all of the rallies were exclusively peaceful in nature. Yet the rallies ended in numerous detentions of protesters and the subsequent administrative and criminal prosecution of some of them. During the detentions, law enforcement officers used brute force against the protesters.
The Open Dialogue Foundation has managed to gather the names of 136 police officers, investigators, security officers, prosecutors and judges who participated in politically motivated prosecutions of peaceful protesters. The list was compiled based on the testimonies of the victims, as well as information received from members of the Facebook group #IHaveAChoice #ActivistsNotExtremists (the group consists of about 1,500 people from various cities of Kazakhstan. It was established to gather information and assist those prosecuted for participation in peaceful protests).
In March 2019, after the announcement of the extraordinary presidential election, mass protests in Kazakhstan became more frequent. During the presidential election, the protests reached their peak. According to official data, between 9 June 2019 (an extraordinary presidential election in Kazakhstan was held on 9 June 2019. It was won by Kassym-Zhomart Tokayev, the protege of Nazarbayev) and 12 June 2019 alone, about 4,000 people were detained. However, the true numbers may be many times higher. For comparison, during the whole of 2018, about 500 people were detained for participating in peaceful protests in Kazakhstan. The protesters demanded the authorities secure a fair election, release political prisoners, provide housing for mothers with many children, create new jobs, revoke the renaming of Astana to Nur-Sultan, and prevent the construction of a nuclear power plant.
Active prosecution of participants in peaceful protests began after the Esil District Court of Astana recognised the peaceful opposition movement Democratic Choice of Kazakhstan (DCK) as an extremist organisation and in March 2018 banned its activities in Kazakhstan (In its resolution on the human rights situation in Kazakhstan dated 14 March 2019, the European Parliament called on the Kazakhstani authorities to lift the ban on the DCK. Based on this decision, peaceful protesters have been subjected to arbitrary detentions and political persecution. Detained protesters are subjected to many hours of interrogation, during which, among others, they are asked questions about their involvement in the DCK’s activities. Often, administrative and criminal proceedings are initiated against detained protesters, and courts almost always convict participants for peaceful actions.
The following categories of officials are directly involved in politically motivated prosecutions of peaceful protesters:
1) Police and special services officers who carry out and coordinate arbitrary detentions of peaceful protesters;
2) Investigators who initiate administrative and criminal proceedings against detained protesters;
3) Prosecutors who support the prosecution of detainees in court;
4) Judges who convict peaceful protesters.
This report contains the names of 136 officials who are personally responsible for the prosecution of participants in peaceful rallies in Kazakhstan in 2019.
2. The list of police officers, investigators and special services officers
Police and special services officers carry out the “dirtiest” work — they detain peaceful protesters, hand them subpoenas and bring them to police stations for questioning. Detentions in places of protest often involve the use of brute force and beatings. During the protests, police officers arrest not only protesters, but also people sitting peacefully on benches. They also snatch random passers-by, elderly people and minors from the crowd with brute force and beatings. Before and on the day of protests, police officers patrol the areas near the houses of activists who take part in peaceful actions in order to hand them summons for questioning. In this way, the law enforcement agencies make it impossible for activists to participate in peaceful protests. Police officers often fill summons for questioning by hand right at the scene, even though the law requires that a summons be issued by an investigator and the police has only the right to deliver a completed document. In addition, officers often do not introduce themselves and almost never state the reason for the detention.
Police officers often cooperate with members of the National Security Committee (NSC), who work under false names, always in plain clothes, and often hide their faces behind masks. The NSC workers also record the presentation of the summons for questioning on a video camera. During the rallies, NSC officers control the dispersal of protesters and give instructions to police on detaining the participants. However, they do not detain activists themselves. Some NSC employees act as provocateurs to create the appearance of a non-peaceful action. They can also be present during interrogations and participate in the trials of detainees.
The detained protesters are taken to police stations, where they are interrogated by investigators. Interrogations are often associated with violations of the rights of detainees: they have no access to lawyers, are denied the right to make a telephone call, and are intimidated and forced to sign documents, and their relatives are not informed about their whereabouts. Mobile phones and other devices are often confiscated from detainees. After interrogation, the detainees are either released or their cases are referred to court.
Bakytzhan Asembekovich Malybayev
Deputy Head of Astana Police Department, Police Colonel
Since 5 September 2018, he has been the Deputy of the Head of the Department of Internal Affairs of the city of Nur-Sultan, Marat Kozhayev. He was repeatedly seen during the protests in Astana, where he led and participated in the detention of peaceful protesters. On 22 March 2019, Svetlana Glushkova, a journalist from the “Nastoyashchee Vremya” TV channel, who covered a peaceful rally, was detained on his orders. On 1 May 2019, Malybayev negotiated with peaceful protesters who demanded the release of people who had been detained that day. On 9 May 2019, Bakytzhan Malybayev assured journalists that his subordinates had not detained the protesters, although 5 detentions were recorded that day. On 3 June 2019, Malybayev directed the actions of police when they surrounded protesting mothers with many children on the square in front of the parliament building in Astana. On 6 July 2019, Malybayev directed the actions of the police and the Special Rapid Response Unit (SOBR) to suppress and detain peaceful protesters. On the same day, Malybayev covered up the actions of the so-called “titushki” (titushki are groups of athletic-looking mercenaries who provoke conflicts during peaceful protests), Azamat Shaykemelov and Zhiger Akhmetov, who used umbrellas to prevent “Radio Azattyk” journalists from taking pictures. When asked by the journalists for help, Bakytzhan Malybayev replied: “These are your people, they are provoking on purpose.”
Azamat Shaykemelov and Zhiger Akhmetov
Askhat Kalmagambetovich Tuleuov
Head of the NSC Department of the city of Nur-Sultan
Nurgali Dauletbekovich Bilisbekov
Lieutenant General of the NSC, Deputy Chairman of the NSC of the Republic of Kazakhstan, supervisor of the 10th Department of the NSC
Askhat Tuleuov participated in the persecution of the opposition and organised the dispersal of protests in Nur-Sultan on 21 March 2019 and 1 May 2019. He is called the “chief extortionist of the capital’s Department of the NSC”. It was reported that Nurgali Bilisbekov was giving orders to the officers of the NSC Department who are engaged in racketeering.
Daulet Bolatovich Kurmanov
An NSC officer
He is involved in the fight against extremism. He is subordinate to a man named Daniyar and pursues alleged DCK members. On 26 and 27 April 2019, he visited Alimzhan Izbassarov and Zhanbot Alzhanova to conduct so-called “explanatory talks”. On 30 May 2019, he spied on the activists who came to support Izbassarov, who had been conscripted into the army for political reasons. Moreover, on 7 June 2019, Kurmanov participated in breaking the door to the apartment of activist Aliya Zhakupova. He also participated in the search of her apartment as well as in her detention. On 4 July 2019, together with his partner who introduced himself as Berik, Kurmanov came to the home of activist Anna Shukeeva. Despite the fact that the officers did not have a completed summons, they detained the activist together with her infant baby.
Presumably an NSC officer
On 30 May 2019, he followed activists near the military registration and enlistment office, where Alimzhan Izbassarov had been summoned. Bauyrzhan was also seen during the cordoning off of the protesting mothers with many children on the square near the parliament building on 3 June 2019.
Employee of the Public Security Department of the Nur-Sultan Department of Internal Affairs
For several years, he has been engaged in “preventing protest actions”, that is, in detaining and putting pressure on peaceful activists. In 2016, he participated in the abduction of Aigul Utepova, one of the activists protesting against land reform. In 2017, Baibazarov participated in the search of civil society activist Makhambet Abzhan. In 2018, together with his partner Erkin Sabdenov, Baibazarov attacked a peaceful passer-by and hit him in the face. On 7 June 2019, he participated in the blocking of Didar Baizhakupov’s car. According to some reports, his group was involved in the abduction of Serikzhan Bilash.
Aibek Bektasovich Baigaliyev
District Inspector Lieutenant Colonel of Police (photo of a business card)
Erkin Baltabaevich Galiakparov
Presumably, a criminal investigation officer
On 30 May 2019, Aibek Baigaliyev and Erkin Galiakparov interrogated Zhaslan Suleimenov, an activist with a disability. At the interrogation, they were interested in his activities, possible involvement in international organisations and trips to Almaty.
Interior Ministry Major
On 9 May 2019, i.e. on the day of the protest rally, Interior Ministry Major Timur Kadir, together with two unidentified persons, kidnapped human rights activist Zhanbota Alzhanova. Without introducing themselves or explaining the reasons, they forcibly pulled Alzhanova out of a bus and pushed her into their car. Alzhanova was held in the Baikonur Regional Department of Internal Affairs for more than 3 hours.
Azamat Nurzhanuly Orazbayev
Senior Lieutenant of the Police Inspectorate on Personnel of the Department of Internal Security
He is deliberately delaying the investigation into the abduction of activist Zhanbota Alzhanova.
Traffic Police Inspector, Senior Lieutenant
On 15 May 2019, Traffic Police Inspector Mansur Zhakparov participated in the forcible detention of activist Darkhan Umirbayev and his wife Dinara Abisheva. During the detention, he used a stun gun: six times against Umirbayev and four times against Abisheva. The incident took place in front of Umirbayev and Abisheva’s young children. Despite abundant video and photographic evidence, Zhakparov denies the fact that he used the stun gun.
Senior Police Lieutenant
On 9 May 2019, i.e. on the day of the rally, Senior Police Lieutenant Kaliyev was waiting for Darkhan Umirbayev near the entrance to his house. As soon as the activist left the house, Kaliyev handed him a summons, which he filled out on the spot, signing it with the name of Major E.A. Omarov. Umirbayev was detained by Kaliyev and an unidentified civilian, presumably an NSC officer, who recorded the presentation of the subpoena on a video camera.
Следователь, капитан полиции
On 7 June 2019, Zholdasov took part in the persecution of activist Yerbol Yeskhozhin. On that day, Yeskhozhin was taken to the Nur-Sultan Department of Internal Affairs and questioned for more than three hours. Investigator Zholdasov conducted an interrogation and personal search. In the search report, Zholdasov mentioned parts of Yeskhozhin’s blue clothes (blue is the colour of attributes of the opposition movement DCK): “blue shirt, blue underwear”.
Nurbol Zhaksylykovich Abulkhairov
Senior Lieutenant Detective of Police (pictured left)
Alisher Nurlanovich Dosbolov
Senior Lieutenant Detective of the Esil District Police Department of Internal Affairs
Since 2018, they have been seen persecuting participants in peaceful rallies in Nur Sultan. On 10 May 2018, they were transferring the detained protesters to the Esil District Police Department. Many detainees complained that Abulkhairov and Dosbolov ignored their requests to give them access to lawyers, notify their relatives, provide water, and let them go to the restroom. On 9 May 2019, i.e. on the day of the rally, Abulkhairov and Dosbolov subpoenaed activists to prevent them from participating in the action.
Alikhan Batyrkhanovich Momyshev
Senior Lieutenant Detective of the Almaty District Police Department
On 5 July 2019, together with his partner, he threatened Zhaslan Suleimenov, an activist with a disability. The officers warned Suleimenov about administrative and criminal responsibility for participation in the upcoming rally.
Asanali Sultangaziyevich Mukanov
Senior Lieutenant in the Investigation Unit of the Police Department (on the left)
Senior Detective of the Police Department (second from left)
Detective (third from left)
Yerzhan Khamitovich Karimov
Criminal Investigator (on the right)
On 7 June 2019, the door of the apartment of activist Aliya Zhakupova was broken down, after which she was searched and detained. Investigator Mukanov questioned Zhakupova about her connections with the DCK. During the search conducted by Detective Sanzhar Aitimishev, flags of Kazakhstan and computer devices were seized. Criminal Investigator Yerzhan Karimov, Senior Detective Gizaliya Kibatova and another officer also took part in the detention of Zhakupova.
Dastan Kairgeldievich Zhunusov
Major of the Criminal Police Department
On 9 June 2019, i.e. on the election day, Major Zhunusov, together with his two partners, detained Aliya Zhakupova, who was leaving her home. Zhakupova was taken to the Almaty District Police Department of Internal Affairs.
Bakhtiyar Khayrbulatovich Uteikin
Senior Detective of the Tselinograd District Police Department in Akmol, Head of the Office for Countering Extremism of the Akmola District Police Department, Police Colonel
On 4 July 2018, Uteikin took part in the detention of civil activist Kayyrla Omar. On 4 May 2019, activist and human rights defender Dulat Agadil was detained in the village of Akmol (36 km from Nur-Sultan). Agadil’s cell phone was taken from him during the detention. A few days later, Bakhtiyar Uteikin admitted on camera that he had seized the cell phone illegally and was ready to be punished for it.
Serik Myrzakulovich Kudebayev
Head of Almaty Police Department (pictured left)
Izbasar Tlebaldiyevich Bekturov
Deputy Head of the Department of Internal Affairs of Almaty
They were repeatedly seen coordinating dispersals of peaceful protests and mass detentions of peaceful protesters. On 1 May 2019, Kudebayev gave the order to detain civilians. On 6 July 2019, he participated in the suppression and detention of peaceful protesters in Almaty, commanding the police and SOBR officers. Bekturov participated in coordinating the detention of peaceful protesters on 22 March 2019 and 10 May 2019. He ordered his subordinates to take the phones from the detainees and be cruel to them.
Head of the Department of Internal Policy of Almaty for the Bostandyk District
On 6 July 2019 in Almaty, he personally supervised the detention of participants in peaceful rallies and gave instructions to police officers on which of the peaceful protesters should be detained and dragged into transport vehicles.
Senior Investigator for Special Cases of Almaty Police Department
She is suspected of falsifying the cases of Yulia Kozlova, Almat Zhumagulov and Kenzhebek Abishevastasty. She is also involved in the prosecution of activists and mothers of many children, Oksana Shevchuk, Gulzipa Dzhaukerova and Zhazira Demeuova. On 13 June 2019, on her order, the bank cards of Daniyar Khasenov (activist, human rights defender and observer from the Italian Federation for Human Rights) and his relatives were blocked. She is suspected of illegally preventing Khasenov from leaving Kazakhstan.
Kuanysh Muratovich Aitzhanov
District Police Inspector of the Almaty Department of Internal Affairs (pictured left)
Maksat Askarovich Shalkybayev
District Police Inspector of the Almaty Department of Internal Affairs, Police Captain
On 1 June 2019, District Police Inspectors Kuanysh Aitzhanov and Maksat Shalkybayev detained activist Sabyrzhan Kasenov on the basis of a blank summons.
Nursultan Zhanimanov (pictured left)
Так называемые «Черные человечки» The so-called “black men” (presumably SOBR officers)
They were noticed during the dispersal of the rally and detention of peaceful protesters in Almaty on 9–12 June 2019. Dressed in special black uniforms without identification marks, they detained peaceful protesters in a particularly brutal manner.
Madi Zeynolovich Kusainov
Detective Police Captain, Investigator
He is stalking the family of activist Erkin Kaziyev. On 30 April 2019, Madi Kusainov participated in the forcible detention of Kaziyev, as a result of which the activist received bodily injuries. According to Kaziyev’s wife, the investigator jumped over the fence of their house, grabbed her and, having knocked her to the ground, began to scream and threaten her.
He is in charge of the criminal case against Erkin Kaziyev. According to lawyer Gulnara Zhuaspayeva, Yeszhanov signed the dismissal of Kaziyev’s lawyer on behalf of the accused and without his knowledge, and then appointed another lawyer for him.
Azamat Isaul Tulenov
On 9 May 2019, during peaceful protests, Azamat Tulenov and Abylai Arkhat detained Dariga Rakim by force and took her to Almaty Police Department. There, she was questioned by investigator Aliya Borumbayeva for three hours.
Officer of the Police Department of the Medeu District
On 9 June 2019, he detained activist Sabyrzhan Kasenov and tried to take the phone away from Asel Yeskeldinova by force.
Senior Detective on Extremism, Police Major
Abzal Sautovich Satayev
Junior Police Lieutenant
On 9 May 2019, Major Saken Koylybayev and Police Lieutenant Abzal Satayev stopped the car of activist Alibek Moldin. They demanded he leave the vehicle under the pretext of checking its trunk. He was then forcibly detained and taken to the Zarechny District Police Department of Internal Affairs, where he was held until the evening. When the police officers detained him, they broke the window in his car. Koylybayev was also seen stalking activist Dana Zhanayeva. He has been following her regularly since 10 May 2018. On 3 July 2018, Koylybayev and his partner Saparbek forcibly pushed Zhanayeva into their car and took her to the prosecutor’s office. There she was threatened with criminal charges and forced to sign documents. Moreover, Koylybayev also threatened and pressured Zhanayeva’s relatives.
Presumably an NSC officer
On 9 May 2019, two law enforcement officers, one of whom introduced himself as Serik Beketov, kidnapped Dana Zhanayeva. During the detention, they used brute force. It is noteworthy that the officers tried to hide their faces from the camera and wore black masks over their faces.
Head of Local Police Department, Police Major
On 9 June 2019, Sydykbayev participated in the dispersal of peaceful protesters. He also took part in the detention of Karlygash Asanova. He threatened her with opening a criminal case for allegedly causing grievous bodily harm.
On 9 June 2019, major Sydykbayev and investigator Amangeldiyev participated in the political persecution of peaceful protesters. Among others, they detained activist Karlygash Asanova. Sydykbayev and Amangeldiyev confiscated her identity card and threatened her with opening a criminal case.
Aibek Muratkalievych Kupenov
Deputy Head of the Department of Internal Policy of the Aktobe Region
He has been putting pressure on the relatives of civil activist and human rights defender Dana Zhanayeva after she wrote a letter to the President of the European Council, Donald Tusk. He has been writing to her mother, calling her father and sending officers to spy on them. He also sent tax inspectors with a task to check her mother.
Kenzhebek Suyuzhanovich Kuspayev
Head of the Local Police Department in Uralsk
On 12 June 2019, he detained Lukpan Akhmedyarov, editor-in-chief of Uralskaya Nedelya magazine, on the Abai Square. After that, Akhmedyarov was convicted of alleged disobedience to law enforcement officials. On 6 July 2019, Kuspayev detained activist Aslan Sagutdinov, who was sitting on a bench.
Police Officer, Police Major (pictured left)
Police Major (pictured right)
On 27 February 2019, Bisengabulov followed the editor-in-chief of Uralskaya Nedelya magazine, Lukpan Akhmedyarov, in a Niva police car. On 6 July 2019, Arman Bisengabulov and his partner Tugelov detained Akhmedyarov. At the same time, Tugelov did not present his official identity card and was wearing civilian clothes.
Police Captain, City Department of Internal Affairs
On 9 May 2019, he personally detained activist Ruslan Kazhganov. His partner, who introduced himself as a passer-by, was standing next to him.
Medet Kanatovich Yesenkulov
Police Captain (pictured left)
District Police Inspector (pictured right)
On 8 May 2019, he visited activist Nurken Sultanov to present a summons. The next day, Sultanov appeared at the Abai District Police Department of Internal Affairs in Shymkent at the appointed time. There, he was dragged by force into the building.
On 29 May 2019, he handed a summons to Nurzhan Mukhammedov, who was going to a kurultai (a people’s gathering organised to address important government issues. In 2019, a kurultai took place in Nur-Sultan (Astana) on 1 June 2019). In order to prevent his participation in the event, he banned Mukhammedov from leaving the South Kazakhstan Region. The summons was handed over by Police Captain Sukhanov, but the document indicated the name of the investigator of the South Kazakhstan Region, Senior Lieutenant Zh. Oraz.
Murat Talgatovchi Azhkhano
Head of the Department for Combating Extremism at the Department of Internal Affairs of the Police Service in Semey
On 7 June 2019, he participated in the abduction and illegal arrest of activist Ruslan Nurkanov. Moreover, on 24 July 2019, after a court hearing in the case of Mukhtar Dzhakishev, he ignored the illegal actions of his subordinates, who filmed activists and observers.
Sayat Bolatkhanuly Sultanov
On 7 June 2019, together with his partner, he detained activist Ruslan Nurkanov for allegedly throwing a cigarette butt. Moreover, the officers accused Nurkanov of drug trafficking and attempted to plant drugs on him, after which he was forced to undergo a medical examination at a drug treatment centre.
On 12 June 2019, they interrogated Venera Suyunova and her husband Aslan, who had been detained during a walk on a promenade. During the interrogation, the detainees were forced to sign unknown documents. Ryskalyev threatened them and shouted at them during the questioning. He was interested in why they were going to the protest. On the same day, Bisalyev and Ryskalyev interrogated Merey Dzhazbayeva. They forced her to sign unknown documents, threatened her and grabbed her by the arms.
Colonel of Munaly District Department of Internal Affairs of the Mangistau Region
He persecutes the families of participants in peaceful protests, Zhambyl Kobeysinov and Ablovas Dzhumaev. Due to his activity, Kobeysinov’s wife had a nervous breakdown and a miscarriage. According to activist Aigul Akberdiyeva, Kuandykov was previously the head of the fight against extremism.
Murat Karimovich Bayserkenov
Head of the Local Police Service of the Zhambyl region, Police Colonel
On 9 June 2019, Murat Bayserkenov and several other law enforcement officers detained activists Orazbek Sadykov and Mazhit Akbergenov for walking on the Dostyk Square. It is noteworthy that Sadykov is a severely disabled person.
3. List of prosecutors and judges
Court hearings in the cases of detained peaceful protesters almost always result in convictions. On the days of the rallies, due to the large number of detainees, the courts are held directly in police buildings. The format of such “ad-hoc courts” violates human rights and does not meet the criteria of openness of court proceedings. Detainees are often only provided with public defenders who do not defend their rights before the courts. Relatives, human rights defenders, civil society activists and observers are not allowed to attend court sessions, despite the fact that they are formally open. Moreover, there are no audio or video recordings of such hearings.
Courts often take place late in the evening or at night and last only a few minutes. According to the detainees, the judges do not pay attention to any evidence and facts, and ask only two questions: “How old are you?” and “Are you disabled?”. Taking into account the answers to these questions, the judges decide what decision to take.
Below we present the list of prosecutors and judges who participated in the trials of participants in the peaceful protests of June–July 2019 and convicted them:
4. Conclusions and recommendations
Each official involved in the prosecution of participants in peaceful protests bears personal responsibility for the violation of the civil and political rights of citizens guaranteed by Art. 32 of the Constitution of the Republic of Kazakhstan (citizens of the Republic of Kazakhstan have the right to convene, hold assemblies, meetings and demonstrations, marches and pickets peacefully and without weapons). By ratifying the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Kazakhstan pledged to respect the civil and political rights of its citizens, including the right to peaceful assembly, freedom of expression, and freedom of thought (Art. 21 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights). The official authorities of Kazakhstan have undertaken obligations under the Agreement on Enhanced Partnership and Cooperation with the European Union and other treaties.
The Open Dialogue Foundation calls on the Kazakhstani authorities to immediately stop prosecuting peaceful protesters, to close all criminal and administrative cases brought against them, and to rehabilitate all those who have been punished for exercising their constitutional right to peaceful protest. We recall the need to comply with the requirements of the Resolution of the European Parliament on the situation of human rights in Kazakhstan dated 14 March 2019.
The Open Dialogue Foundation also calls on UN bodies, the OSCE, the Council of Europe, and the European Parliament to continuously monitor Kazakhstan’s compliance with its international obligations in the field of the rule of law and human rights, and to create a sanctioning mechanism for the personal prosecution of human rights violators in Kazakhstan. We call for pressure to be exerted on the Kazakhstani authorities to bring to justice all those responsible for unjustified summonses to questioning, arbitrary detentions, dispersals of peaceful protests, and beatings and convictions of peaceful protesters.
We would be grateful to the citizens of Kazakhstan for collecting photo and video material and personal data of the persons mentioned in this report, as well as information about other persons who should be included in this list.