Kazakhstan: Vadim Khuramshin released from police custody without charge

Harassment and threats will not stop struggle for prison and democratic rights

Some time after a police station in Shakhtinsk, near Karaganda, Kazakhstan, received a phone call on behalf of Socialist Party (CWI in Ireland) MEP, Joe Higgins, Vadim Khuramshin and Zhumagali Omanbayev were released without charge. They had been arrested earlier in the day outside the 40th Colony Dolinka, following a day in which they tried unsuccessfully to get a meeting with the prison administration.

Vadim reported that the local police chief claimed that the decision to detain them was not his but an order from above, although he would not say who from. But this did not stop the police from mistreating the two. While in the police station, Vadim and Zhumagali were taken into separate rooms – they threatened Zhumagali ,saying things could get worse for his brother (who is in Dolinka), and that if he did not get Vadim to leave the city things would be made bad for Zhamagali too.

It seems quite clear the police were getting ready to frame Vadim on drugs charges: when he demanded to know why he had been arrested, he was told that an "anonymous informant" had said he was carrying drugs. After initially denying that there was anyone detained at the station, Joe Higgins’ representative was told that they did have a “Vadim” detained and that apparently his detention was linked with drugs. If that had been the case, they would not have released him without charge.

Last week, Manfred Nowak, the UN Rapporteur on Torture, was in Kazakhstan and met with Vadim and a group of prisoners relatives. At the end of his visit, senior Kazakhstan government representatives agreed that they would try and find some way of working with Vadim. When Vadim was asked to comment on whether this latest provocation made a farce out of these promises, he said that the tops of the authorities can no longer control what is going on, and that there are different groups in the government contradicting each other. This confirms the analysis made by the CWI in Kazakhstan; that despite the outward image of a strong, united government, in fact, there is a big struggle going on behind the scenes. Indeed the Kazakhstan media, over the last few weeks, has concentrated on the uncovering of an alleged coup attempt against the ruling clique around President Nazarbayev.

Vadim Kuramshin sends his thanks to those who sent protests on his behalf.

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October 2010