Human Rights Issues in Eurasia / Правовые Вопросы В Регионах Евразии

Archive for the ‘Kazakhstan’ Category

Putin Considers To Cut Russia From The Internet ‘In An Emergency’

Posted by Info on 07/10/2014

President Vladimir Putin is considering steps to disconnect Russian citizens from the web “in an emergency” in the event of a serious military confrontation or big anti-government protests at home early next year. The goal would be to strengthen Russia’s sovereignty in cyberspace. The proposals could also bring the domain .ru under state control, it suggested. Already the Russian TV and most of the country’s newspapers are under the Kremlin’s control.

The move comes at a time when Russia has been bitterly critical of the western media towards events in Ukraine. Russian channels have portrayed the conflict in Ukraine as a heroic fight against “fascists” in Kiev. They have disputed western reports that Russian soldiers and heavy weapons are involved.

Andrei Soldatov, an expert on Russia’s spy agencies : The security council’s apparent proposal to take control over .ru, as well as the domains .su (for Soviet Union) and .рф (Russian Federation in Cyrillic). These domains currently belong to a non-government organisation.Kazakhstan, an authoritarian state intolerant of online criticism, did something similar two years ago.

An employee of a large communications provider said:” Moscow did not want to unplug the world wide web but to protect Russian cyberspace in case of further western sanctions that may affect the internet.”

Posted in Kazakhstan, Russia | Leave a Comment »

Amnesty Report Notes Worldwide Abuses

Posted by Info on 23/05/2013

The findings were published on May 23 in Amnesty International’s annual report, “The State of the World’s Human Rights,” for 2012 and documents abuses in 159 countries and territories.

Amnesty International Secretary-General Salil Shetty: “Governments have been created to protect the rights of their citizens, but we then have governments who are actually doing exactly the opposite, who are actually violating the rights of their own citizens and people who are living inside their boundaries. So I think in this day and age the excuse of national sovereignty, that these are internal affairs, is simply not acceptable.”

The researchers say that there has been a suppression of freedom of expression to varying degrees in Azerbaijan, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan.

Kazakh authorities used “excessive force” to break up strikes and public protests by oil and gas workers in southwestern Kazakhstan from May through the end of 2012. Hundreds of employees were dismissed, dozens of protesters, trade unionists, and opposition activists were detained, and at least 16 people were killed during clashes between protesters and police in December 2011. The report also says refugees were forcibly returned to China and Uzbekistan, despite international protests.

Torture and ill-treatment remains widespread in Tajikistan while impunity for perpetrators continued. The assessment says independent monitoring bodies were given “no access to detention facilities.” It notes that children, elderly people, and witnesses in criminal cases endured torture that included “the use of electric shocks, boiling water, suffocation, beatings and burnings with cigarettes.”

Uzbekistan has restricted the freedom of expression because human rights campaigners and journalists are continually harassed. 10 journalists and human rights defenders remained imprisoned in “cruel, inhuman, and degrading conditions.”  The  suspected members of banned religious groups are a particular target of ill-treatment by Uzbek authorities.

That torture and other forms of ill-treatment of those suspected of criminal offenses remain widespread in Turkmenistan. It cites electric shocks, rape, and the forcible administration of psychotropic drugs among the methods employed by authorities against suspects. It said freedom of movement remained drastically restricted.

 In Russia, increased peaceful political protests have prompted “repression,” including restrictive new laws and the harassment of rights activists, journalists, and lawyers.  The number of apparently politically motivated verdicts is on the rise. The situation is said to be particularly bad in the volatile North Caucasus, where Amnesty says Russia often fails to properly investigate claims of abuses by law enforcement officials. The assessment says torture and ill-treatment of detainees remain a problem.

 Kyrgyz authorities were guilty of ethnic discrimination after deadly clashes between ethnic Uzbeks and Kyrgyz three years ago.

In Georgia the new government is dealing with a delicate political balancing act.

The Amnesty report calls on Belarus to abolish the death penalty, which it says has been carried out in a “cruel and inhuman” way. Executions are conducted in “utmost secrecy” with neither the condemned nor their relatives being informed in advance.

It criticizes Moldova for not doing enough to prevent discrimination based on sexual orientation. Moldova was also cited for a law mandating the chemical castration of violent child abusers.

Ukraine is plagued by failings in its criminal justice system and a lack of safeguards for detainees. The rights of homosexuals and transgenders are at risk because of pending legislation.


Posted in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan | Leave a Comment »

Sign Petition Calling On Kazakhstan’s Government To Help Protect Journalist’s Rights

Posted by Info on 22/05/2013

Kazakh Human Rights Defender calls for international action

Lukpan Akhmedyarov, Editor in Chief of one of Kazakhstans last remaining independent newspapers, calls on the international community to establish mechanisms to guide and monitor the human rights implementation process

Take Action Now! Petition on line

подпиши обращение к правительству Kазахстана, чтобы помочь защитить права журналистов

Thematic Focus:

Enforcement and compliance of the right to freedom of expression and opinion. (Article 19 of the ICCPR)

Proposal summary:

Establishing mechanisms to realize the process of democratization and human rights implementation. The mechanisms must set out specific targets and include a verification process.

Posted in Казахстан, EU, Kazakhstan, UN | Leave a Comment »

Kazakhstan: Dangerous Precedent – Journalist At Risk

Posted by Info on 16/05/2013

Journalist Alexander Kharlamov,63, was arrested and was 3 days later  accused of inciting religious strife on the grounds of his forthright atheist views and fears to be sent to a psychiatric institution. He writes a blog, is a regular contributor to the Ridderskiye Vesti and Flash newspapers, and heads a rights group called Secret Service. He is particularly well known for campaigning against corruption, and has written extensive on malpractice among municipal, police and prosecution service staff in his town. His case raises concerns about the misuse of psychiatric medicine for punitive ends, a practice common in the Soviet period.

 Article 164 of Kazakstan criminal code makes it illegal to engage in actions intended “to incite social, ethnic, clan, racial or religious enmity or animosity”, and refers also to “the ethnic honour and dignity or religious feelings of citizens”.

The criminal investigation experts appointed to assess Kharlamov’s published work, who concluded that 28 of the 36 articles they looked at qualified as incitement. One of the offending passages referred to religion in general as “an ideology based on primitive ideas and concepts, myths, lies and deception”.

Sergei Duvanov, a well-known journalist in Kazakstan, said the legal moves against Kharlamov were in clear breach of the right to freedom of expression. “He’s expressing his point of view. It doesn’t matter whether it’s correct or not, whether it coincides with the views of the majority of people, or whether he’s in the minority,” 

In a resolution from April 18, the European Parliament noted Kharlamov’s detention along with other cases where human rights activists and opposition members had been prosecuted. The resolution urged Kazakstan’s government to revoke Article 164 and called for talks on a new Partnership and Cooperation Agreement with the European Union to be suspended until the country significantly improved its human rights record.



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Freedom Of Speech Index for 2012

Posted by Info on 08/05/2013

Reporters Without Borders has published its annual Freedom of the Press Index for 2012:

Uzbekistan occupied 164th place out of 179 countries. From last year’s index Uzbekistan moved down seven notches which shows the deterioration of the situation journalists face in the country. Uzbekistan remained a nightmare for journalists. Dictatorship of President Islam Karimov controlled the Internet, pressured the media and punished independent journalists using courts.

It was a good news to hear, that The UNHCR in Kyrgyzstan granted refugee status to Uzbek journalist Elena Bondar. Pressure on Bondar – threatening phone calls and aggressive treatment by law enforcement officers – forced the young journalist to flee Uzbekistan and seek refugee status.

The worse situation is only in Turkmenistan with the regime of President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov. Turkmenistan came 177th on the index, along with Eritrea and North Korea which came on the bottom of the index.

Kazachstan occupied 16oth, Tajikistan 123rd and   Kyrgyzstan 106th place.

Russia came 148th, falling six notches from last year which is explained by repressions and the suppression of protests after Vladimir Putin came to power.

Moldova, Armenia and Georgia fared the best coming 55th, 74th and 100th.

Íà÷àëñÿ ðàáî÷èé âèçèò ïðåçèäåíòà Ðîññèè â Òóðêìåíèþ

Personality cult in Turkmenistan. President Berdymukhamedov introduced minimal reforms but heaped honours upon himself. For his 50th birthday, he awarded himself the Watan (Motherland) Order, a gold and diamond pendant weighing about 1 kilogram for his “outstanding achievements” in his barely six months in office.

Posted in Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, UN, Uzbekistan | Leave a Comment »

Kazakhstan: Authorities seek closure of independent, critical media

Posted by Info on 06/05/2013

Prosecuting authorities are seeking to close down independent media outlets Respublika and Vzglyad, the satellite TV station K+, the news portal, and all websites linked to these outlets as they are critical of President Nursultan Nazarbayev’s government. The prosecutor links the independent media to what it calls the “extremism” of the two main opposition parties, Alga and Khalyk Maydany, and accuses the outlets of “extremist propaganda”.In August 2011, a similar charge of “extremism” was used to block access to LiveJournal, a popular blog platform.

Nursultan Nazarbayev is one of the world’s longest-serving presidents, a man who has driven opponents into exile and who  won his elections with more than 90% of the vote. International monitors have sharply criticised Kazakhstan‘s presidential election, citing numerous cases of ballot-box stuffing, voter intimidation and a lack of transparency.

Human rights in Kazakhstan

European Parliament debated and adopted by a large majority the resolution on 18.4.2013 , calling to protect human rights in Kazakhstan. Parliament strongly criticised the court decision to ban opposition parties, including the unregistered ´Alga!` party, as well as independent media actors. It also called for restrictions on the registration and practice of religion to be eased and for workers rights to form independent labour unions to be upheld.

The House reiterated its concern at the detention of opposition leaders, journalists and lawyers on the basis of trials which fall short of international standards and called again for the release of persons convicted on the basis of vague criminal charges, which could be considered to be politically motivated, including Vladimir Kozlov and Vadim Kurashim. MEPs also stressed that Aliya Turusbekova cannot be held responsible for the actions of third persons.

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Kazakhstan: Journalists Beaten While Trying To Cover Workers’ Strike

Posted by Info on 26/10/2011

Two journalists were attacked and beaten with baseball bats today while on their way to film a strike by oil workers in the western province of Mangystau.

“There were many witnesses and the car used by the attackers has been identified. We demand a swift and impartial investigation. The completely impunity enjoyed by those responsible for the many violent attacks in connection with the strike is intolerable. The authorities must end the impunity at once or be regarded as accomplices.”
Their assailants repeatedly hit them with baseball bats and used a pistol to fire rubber bullets at them. Both were hospitalized.

The strike by oil workers in Mangystau has continued for more than three months despite the use of violence by the authorities in an attempt to suppress it.

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Tony Blair As Consultant Set Up Office In Kazakhstan

Posted by Info on 26/10/2011

Allegedly Mr Blair has added Kazakhstan, ruled by Mr Nazarbayev since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, to his consultancy business.

Mr Nazarbayev’s adviser, appeared to confirm this and also said that Mr Blair and his team had opened an office in Astana, the Kazakh capital.
“A large working group is here and, to my knowledge, it has already opened Tony Blair’s permanent office in Astana.
I have met with his people already and we discussed the socio-political modernisation of our country. I liked his people, the range of questions they discussed and their professionalism.”

Tony Blair Associates, Mr Blair’s company, later denied the former Prime Minister or any of his companies were currently involved in the deal.

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Two Decades Since USSR Broke Up. What Happened To Soviet Countries?

Posted by Info on 23/10/2011

Twenty years on from the Soviet coup gave birth to 15 new states. Guardian data team mined statistics from sources ranging from the World Bank, the UNHCR, the UN Crime Trends Survey and the Happy Planet Index to compare the performance of the countries, combed through the OSCE’s reports on every election in each country since 1991 to see where democracy was taking hold – and where it was not wanted.


Democratic records are exemplary, but the countries sit surprisingly low on international measures for wellbeing and happiness.

Ukraine and Moldova sustained catastrophic economic contraction.. Belarus, under the autocratic rule of Alexander Lukashenko since 1994, suffered less. The troika has the weakest economic figures of all post-Soviet regions. Moldova has the best record of free and fair elections, BUT with return a communist (Vladimir Voronin) to power. Moldova also hosts to one of the post-Soviet space’s many frozen conflicts of the Transdniestr region Ukraine’s democratic turning point – the orange revolution of 2004 – rapidly gave way to paralysis and stalemate… In Belarus, Lukashenko has faced lengthy international isolation for crushing opposition and dissent.

Azerbaijan’s oil dividend makes it one of the strongest performing economies. Armenia and Georgia have both seen incipient growth through the 2000s rudely interrupted by the global recession of 2008/09. The frozen conflicts of Nagorno-Karabakh (Azerbaijan and Armenia) and Abkhazia (Georgia) ..Georgia and Russia has resulted in the only war between former Soviet republics (2008). Armenia suffers from the worst unemployment of all 15 republics, and democratic breakthroughs have been few – only Georgia has held free and fair elections.

A mixed economic story: Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan have expanded their economies more than 400 %. And although these are the happiest post-Soviet republics not one has held a genuinely free or fair election since 1990; central Asia is where elections are deferred or else won with 99 percent of the vote by dictators who lock up their opponents and even ban ballet and name a month of the year after their mother (Turkmenistan). Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan are not post-Soviet at all: they have simply stuck with the strongmen who led them out of the Soviet Union. Turkmenistan the leader died in 2006, while Tajikistan’s Emomali Rahmon has run his republic uncontested since 1992. Only in Kyrgyzstan Soviet-era leader Askar Akayev was ousted in 2005.

Russia has reversed its dramatic economic decline. .its life expectancy persisting below 70 on account of, among other factors, chronic problems with drug and alcohol abuse. Russia has the highest HIV rate (along with Ukraine), the highest homicide rate and the highest prison population of the former Soviet Union. Elections are once again foregone conclusions; governors, once elected, are now appointed. The ‘vertical’ of power centred on the Kremlin appears as strong as it was in Soviet times.

Posted in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Estonia, EU, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, UN, Uzbekistan | Leave a Comment »

Three Uzbek Refugees Extradited From Kazakhstan Now In Prison

Posted by Info on 03/10/2011

Courts in Uzbekistan have sentenced the three men, who had fled to Almaty after being pursued in Uzbekistan on religious charges, to between four and 13 years in prison.

Criminal court sentenced Kobijon Kurbanov to four years in prison for organising illegal religious gatherings.
Faizillakhon Akbarov was convicted for circulating religious materials likely to threaten security and public order and was sentenced to five years in prison.
A 15-year-sentence was handed down to Akhmad Boltaev after he was found guilty on several charges relating to religious extremism, but the prison term was later reduced on appeal to 13 years.

The fate of the other refugees is not known. New fewer than 28 Uzbek refuges, many of whom had expected to remain in Kazakhstan, were handed over to the custody of Uzbekistan’s interior ministry on 9th June this year.

The Expert Working Group, based in Tashkent, claims that the refugees have not been allowed to see their relatives since arriving back in Uzbekistan and they have also been denied the right to choose their own lawyer.

Posted in Kazakhstan, SCO, Uzbekistan | Leave a Comment »

OSCE Over Restrictions In Kazakhstan’s New Religion Law

Posted by Info on 29/09/2011

The OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) expressed concern about the passage of restrictive religion legislation by Kazakhstan’s senate.
The law, which still needs to be signed by the President to enter into force, requires re-registration of all religious communities, bans unregistered religious activities and introduces high penalties for violations of the ban.

Other concerns include the requirement for religious organizations to submit to a “religious study examination”
by a government body; restrictions on the distribution of religious literature outside of religious buildings, religious educational institutions and other facilities identified by local executive bodies; and the requirement for anyone engaged in “missionary activity” to re-register.

ODIHR, in 2009, provided a legal opinion on an earlier version of the law that included similar provisions, concluding that the rights of religious groups would be negatively affected. The draft was subsequently rejected by Kazakhstan’s Constitutional Council.

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Kazakhstan: 18 Persons Arrested For Allegedly Preparation Of Terrorist Acts

Posted by Info on 04/09/2011

“Parliament has to consider adopting a law on religious activity,”president Mr Nazarbayev said during a session of parliament.
<em>”We are not talking about banning the freedom of conscience. We are talking about protecting the state from religious extremism.”
He is concerned about foreigners moving into the country to set up Mosques.“Whoever wants may come here, whoever wants may open a mosque and name it after his father. But nobody knows what these mosques are really doing and no one has approved. As a state, we should put our house in order.

In May a suicide bomber attacked a security services. This was perhaps Kazakhstan’s first suicide bomb but although the authorities blamed militant Islamists for the attack they described it as an isolated incident and carefully avoided talk of terrorism.
This week 18 people were arrested and accused of plotting terrorist attacks.
Around 70 percent of Kazakhstan’s 16.5 million people are Muslims although most do not follow strict Islamic doctrine.

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Kazakhstan Use Cyber-Censorship

Posted by Info on 27/08/2011

A score of websites were blocked on 20 August on the orders of a court in the capital Astana, which said they were helping to promote “terrorism and religious extremism” and contained “calls to acts of terrorism and the manufacture of explosive devices.”

The blocked sites include the Russian-language blog platforms LiveJournal and LiveInternet very popular in all the former Soviet republics.

We call for the withdrawal of the court’s order, which is using the pretext of defending internal security to completely block major blog platforms, thereby censoring a great deal of content that has nothing to do with what the order is supposed to be targeting. It is legitimate to combat terrorism, but this should not result in the closure of independent news websites.

“Kazakhstan has long been regarded as a regional ‘pioneer’ in sophisticated control of the Internet but until now the control had been relatively limited. The blocking of LiveJournal and Google’s pull-out a few months ago represent a turning point. Is Kazakhstan beginning to slide down the same slippery slope taken by its neighbours, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, classified as Enemies of the Internet?”

Posted in Kazakhstan, Russia, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan | Leave a Comment »

Kazakhstan To Extradite Another Uzbek Asylum Seekers to Uzbekistan

Posted by Info on 26/08/2011

Sobirjon Nosirov, 39, was arrested in the western Kazakh city of Oral in late July after he arrived from Russia.
Uzbek authorities wanted Nosirov for “terrorism, religious extremism, anticonstitutional activities, and the preparation and distribution of materials calling for mass unrest and disorder.”

Nosirov began a hunger strike on August 20 to protest his arrest. He is not allow to see his relatives and lawyers.
Nosirov “denies all the accusations. If he is extradited to Uzbekistan, he will face torture and an unfair trial.”

In June, Kazakhstan extradited 29 Uzbek citizens to Uzbekistan at the Uzbek authorities’ request. Two of them were sentenced on August 21 in Syrdariya province to 15 and five years in jail for religious extremism. Ten more are on trial in Tashkent on charges of membership of a banned religious group.

Human rights activists have appealed to the Kazakh authorities not to extradite Uzbek asylum seekers to Uzbekistan as they are likely to face unfair trials and torture in Uzbek custody. Kazakhstan extradited four other Uzbek asylum seekers to Uzbekistan last year.

Posted in Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan | Leave a Comment »

Kazakhstan: Criminal Trial of Labor Lawyer

Posted by Info on 09/08/2011

The prosecution of a labor union lawyer Natalia Sokolova on criminal charges of “inciting social discord” is incompatible with international human rights law.

The indictment accuses Sokolova of aiming to “social discord” by speaking before the collective [of workers] about the disproportionality in wages… [and by]calling on workers to stage unsanctioned protests, carrying out these activities publicly and using the media.” She was also charged with organizing illegal gatherings under article 334-2 of Kazakhstan’s criminal code.

The prosecutor asked the court to sentence Sokolova to seven years in prison and to forbid her from practicing law for three years. Sokolova has denied all criminal charges.

Kazakhstan is a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which guarantees the rights to freedom of expression, association, and assembly, including trade union membership and activities. It is also a member of the International Labor Organization, whose fundamental principles, including the right to organize, are binding on all members.

Under the UN Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers, the Kazakh government has a duty to ensure that lawyers can carry out their work without intimidation, hindrance, or harassment and is required to ensure that they are not subject to prosecution or administrative, economic, or other sanctions for any action taken in accordance with recognized professional duties, standards, and ethics.

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