Kazakhstan: Socialists jailed and fined by regime

Send protests against state repression!

Just as Socialist Resistance (CWI) member, Daniyar Yenikeyev, was released from ten days in jail in Alma-Ata, for the “crime” of participating in a protest, his place was taken by fellow Socialist Resistance member, Ainur Kurmanov, who was sentenced to 5 days, on Tuesday, 17 October. Ainur’s ’crime’ was to turn up at the jail with other members of Socialist Resistance, with sausages, cigarettes and matches to give to jailed Daniyar. As the delegation attempted to persuade the jail guards to hand over their gifts to Daniyar, some held up placards reading, “Free Daniyar”, “How are you Daniyar?” and “We’re with you”. After a few minutes, five of delegation were taken bundled into a van by police and held for three hours without explanation.

Later, after the Socialist Resistance members were released, they went to greet Daniyar on his release from jail. Understandably, they were cautious and stood on the other side of the street from a threatening police van. But this did not stop the police coming over and, once again, taking hold of Ainur, and three other Socialist Resistance members, Olzhas Abilov, Artur Mangutkin and Chingiz Yezhebayev. The group were taken by the police to the regional court. As there was no judge resident at the court house, the police decided to take matters into their hands and the Socialist Resistance group were held overnight in a holding cell (the holding cells are know as “monkey cages”). No formal charges were made against the detained group.

When challenged by the detainees, the local Deputy Chief of Police claimed the group were detained because they possessed placards calling for the “overthrow of the constitutional order” – the Police official must have thought there was a hidden meaning to the placard reading, “How are you, Daniyar?”! The Deputy Chief later tried to distance himself from his ridiculous claim.

The four were taken to court the next morning. The police refused them access to a solicitor. Two young activists from Socialist Resistance were told to assist in the defence of the detained group. The police presented the attempts by Socialist Resistance members to hand over sausages and cigarettes to Daniyar, while he was imprisoned, as an “illegal demonstration”.

Court ‘hearing’ travesty

The hearing began. Defence advocates were presented to the accused. Olzhas, Artur and Chingiz were shown “evidence” against them and a video recording of events outside the police jail. The hearing was then postponed, as the “defence advocates” were required at another court case. The hearing against Ainur, however, continued. He was put under intolerable pressure, when all the officers from the police station, headed by a Colonel Nenashev, crowded the room. Only after some minutes of dispute over their presence, were the police were asked to leave. However, Ainur was not allowed to see the documents used in ‘evidence’ against him or to see the evidence of a prosecution ‘witnesses’. The police asked the court to impose a 10 days jail term against Ainur. The judge sentenced him to five days.

Later, on the same day, the other three defendants were released with “warnings” by the court. One of them, Chingiz, was fined “one minimum wage” (1030 tenge or 6 euro). The three left the court exhausted but in good morale, although obviously concerned about their comrade, Ainur, who started a five day jail term.

Only one week before, Ainur was fined for participating in a “non-sanctioned protest” (According to Kazakhstan law, organisers of any protest, whether in the form of a picket or demonstration, need to get ‘permission’ from the authorities, which is almost always refused). Ainur’s fine was 50 minimum wages (300 euros), which is a large amount in Kazakhstan.

It is now clear the state is targeting Socialist Resistance (CWI). They are attempting to charge Ainur with offences like “offending the person of the city mayor”. This is a criminal charge. In the past, worker-activists were jailed for a year, on such charges.

Please send urgent protests at these arrests and at the ongoing repression against Socialist Resistance members. Send protests to your nearest Kazakhstan embassy/consulate. Send messages of support to: socialism-rk@mail.ru.

Kazakhstan embassies/consulates (new window).

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October 2006