Ablyazov’s letter to Duvanov. Part II
In December 2014, Mukhtar Ablyazov addressed, in an open letter, Sergey Duvanov, Kazakh journalist committed to the defence of human rights. In the first part of his letter, Ablyazov denied the allegations made against him by the authorities and disclosed the details of the hunt for people associated with the Kazakh opposition organised by the Akorda in the West. In the next part, he explains, amongst other things, why he left the UK and did not comply with the British Court’s judgment.
Ablyazov writes also, about why he lost faith in the infallibility of the Western Courts in which his case was pending. He argues that event the Western administration of justice may yield to a strong political pressure. He shows how lobbyists hired by the Kazakh authorities influenced the award of political asylum to him in the UK, effectively delaying the decision for a year. He also describes a failed attempt of a coup d’état and the treats made against him.
Mukhtar Ablyazov’s Open Letter to Sergei Duvanov - II
5 December 2014
I would like to devote the second part of my open letter to answering a question that interests many: why did I leave Great Britain and not submit to the decision of the British judge?”
Among our people there exists a belief that Western courts are infallible, not subject to influence, and always adopt a fair decision. I too was once convinced that this was so. Courts in the West are indisputably more independent than ours and they adopt better-quality decisions, but this does not mean that we can say they are infallible. Otherwise we would have to accept that everything without exception in the West is ideal and infallible.
In that case, following such logic, aircraft built in the West should never crash; while their cars should never break down or get into collisions. But things are not quite like that in real life, are they? We can say that just about everything in the West is better than it is in our country. But better does not mean ideal, as many people think.
My situation, unfortunately, is not at all a standard one for the perception of a Western citizen. It is unique in the scale of the organized worldwide pursuit of one person by the state (and not just one state) with the use of the broadest range of tools available to any state machine —including criminal ones.
No resources are being spared. Everything from the use of international agreements and contacts to lobbying by senior political figures to the hiring of lawyers to organize civil and criminal prosecution and consultants for massive character assassination to buying loyalty by offering contracts and even to participation in a Customs Union, and much else.
From my own example, I can see that the Western system of justice is not capable of withstanding the political pressure on the part of Nazarbayev’s regime. I can see that when resolving disputes concerning serious conflicts in the CIS countries, both individual judges and the entire system are oftentimes powerless, because they do not understand the essence of processes taking place in our country and the mechanisms and methods by which the Nazarbayev regime works.
For example, when I said in the English court that my appointment to the post of Chairman of the Board of Directors of «BTA Bank» had been signed off on by president Nazarbayev, the judge did not understand this. In his opinion this is not possible because after all, Nazarbayev is not a shareholder of the bank and is not on the Board of Directors, and it is a private-sector bank after all. So how is it that Nazarbayev is able to sign off on such a question? This is beyond the comprehension of an English judge.
Or I say that «BTA Bank» is acting on Nazarbayev’s orders when it files a claim against me in a British court, that «BTA Bank» is a tool of political persecution on the part of the regime. The judge cannot believe this; he needs proof in the form of written instructions from Nazarbayev. The judge considers «BTA Bank» to be an independent commercial organization and that there is no influence on it by the government and that it is not dependent on the regime in its decision-making. If I were to say this to anyone in Kazakhstan, everybody would laugh.
What kind of fair decisions can be expected from an English court in such a situation? The court should have considered the case on the merits based on Kazakhstan legislation, but how can the judge pass judgment based on Kazakhstan legislation if he does not understand our reality in Kazakhstan and how our laws are applied? And yet the British judge is issuing decisions on the basis of just such notions.
A special role, of course, was played by professionals in their field – the lawyers and the lobbyists. They are prepared to turn black into white for money. Especially if one considers the fact that there are such political heavyweights as Tony Blair and Jack Straw appearing on the Kazakhstan regime’s side.
And moreover, they’re playing hardball in their work. Only recently, for example, I found out what the reason was for the delay in granting me political asylum in Britain. I was supposed to get it back in 2010 already, but in reality I got it only in July of 2011. Now I’ve learned that the rescheduling of the date had been achieved by Nazarbayev’s lobbyists. Why did they need to do that? The fact is that in this manner the judge had plenty of time to adopt the decision that there’s no politics in my case. Which is exactly what he did. Had I been granted political asylum in Great Britain before the adoption of such a decision by the judges, it would have been impossible to ignore this fact.
The lobbyists achieved their goal: the court had adopted all the main significant decisions before I received political refugee status. I am referring to the decisions in civil proceedings regarding the claims made by «BTA Bank» against me. These proceedings promised to be long and it was guaranteed that the Kazakhstan authorities would lose. However, Astana was worried not so much about this defeat (the bank had already been written off as a total loss as far back as 2009) as by the fear that information about the many economic crimes committed by Nazarbayev’s official representatives would be made public in the course of the court hearings.
As soon as I obtained political refugee status, Kazakhstan immediately began a secret unlawful campaign strip me of this status. Every resource was activated. Pressure was undertaken in all directions.
It is important to note that according to the Geneva Convention on Refugees, the country that offers asylum (in my case, Great Britain), should never engage in discussions on questions related to this asylum with the persecuting state (in my case, with Kazakhstan). However, we have received incontrovertible evidence that there had been a significant exchange of information between the British Home Office and representatives of Kazakhstan, as well as its lawyers and lobbyists working for Kazakhstan. We demanded that the Home Office disclose the documents which were exchanged between the parties (which they are required to do by law), but to this day the Home Office is refusing to make this disclosure. Clearly they have something to hide.
Do you remember, Sergei, what kind of forces were mobilized in order to not allow a trial engaged in investigating "Kazakhgate" to take place in the US? Despite the documentary evidence, the lawyers were able to stop the investigation, and Nazarbayev along with his cronies came out totally unscathed. Now I have been able to see for myself how this is being done in Great Britain.
In that same "Kazakhgate", Nazarbayev’s American lawyers essentially managed to reduce the investigation of bribes received for the biggest oil fields down to the question of whether or not James Giffen is an American CIA agent, and having proved this, to simply bury the case. In the «BTA Bank» case, the British lawyers managed to reduce the investigation of the circumstance of the bank's seizure down to a question about whether or not I respect the British judge.
At first glance this seems to be an absurdity and legal hair-splitting. But in reality, the question of respect for the judge [contempt of court—Trans.] is the subject of quasi-criminal investigation within the framework of the court trial, in which the British lawyers and lobbyists, who get hundreds of millions of dollars for this, have been able to achieve the result they needed.
Such a move is common legal practice. A judge often adopts such decisions. Watch any movie where the judge sends trial participants behind bars “for disrespect [contempt]” – albeit for a not-lengthy term. But in my situation everything looked different. I was given 22 months (out of a possible maximum of 24 months).
Any imprisonment, even for a short time, threatened me not only with factual withdrawal from the civil case, but with physical elimination as well. Even when I was at liberty, living in England, the pressure on me was constant, and surveillance was being carried out using the most modern means. I will give a revealing example of how this was done: more than once they would fly in a helicopter up to the windows of my office in a business center on the 36th floor in order to establish whether I was in my office.
In May 2010, an [assassination] attempt was carried out against me in London. Another car was trying to push my car into the oncoming lane. I was saved only by the fact that I travelled in an armored vehicle. It turned out to be too heavy and therefore more stable. The attacker totaled his own car and disappeared. The police didn’t find anybody.
In January 2011, British police warned me about a threat of assassination or kidnapping. Representatives of the law enforcement agencies came to my home late at night and were extremely worried. It was only later, when people from Chechnya (from Ramazan Kadyrov) flew in to see me and started persuading me that it was not they who were the executors of the murder contract that I understood that the police had indeed had serious grounds for concern. As it turned out, the Chechens do have a contract out on me from Nazarbayev’s people. I have spoken by telephone with president of Chechnya Ramzan Kadyrov twice in this regard.
The London police then frankly admitted that they could not protect either me or my family. They merely advised me to call them in case of danger, but warned that I must not have a weapon. I also could not hire armed security, as this is not permitted in Great Britain.
I understood that the British authorities would not be able to protect me from the criminal activities of Kazakhstan’s mercenaries. Litvinenko had been poisoned with radioactive polonium in the center of London! And what had London been able to do about it even after being able to prove that this had been a contract from Russia?
And I am not even mentioning the incident when I had gotten a warning from Kazakhstan about a planned attack, knowing that Nazarbayev works closely with representatives of business from Albania. At that time, my security was pursuing Albanians who were watching the house where I was living. The warning from Kazakhstan proved true amazingly quickly!
My family was under surveillance in Latvia, Switzerland, Poland, and Italy. They were being photographed and tailed by cars, being followed at a distance of 500 kilometers! And not once did the British judge say that this is illegal, even though he had all the facts before him.
It is remarkable that in the conditions when the London police had declared that they would not be able to ensure my and my family’s safety, the judge continued to insist that I return to Great Britain.
The seriousness of Kazakhstan’s intentions was confirmed by the fact of the abduction of my wife Alma and our six-year-old daughter in Italy. After this, who can assert that there had been no reason for me to leave England? All subsequent actions by Kazakhstan have only confirmed that had I not left England in 2012, the repercussions would have been even worse.
The English judge demanded that I reveal the names of all my partners and customers, although it was obvious that the Kazakhstan authorities would pay to have them hunted down. This is happening right now with some of my lawyers, who are merely providing me with legal assistance.
You may ask, Sergei, why the British judge was demanding this. Why, it is because he saw this case as ordinary commercial litigation, within the framework of which I supposedly hadn’t wanted to disclose information, without getting into the nature of the conflict itself.
I am standing against the entire state machine of Kazakhstan, which isn’t able to provide a decent life for its citizens, although it is capable of spending hundreds of millions of dollars on pursuing its political opponents. In essence we are dealing here with a bunch of crooks and gangsters who have gotten and been holding on to power in the country for more than two decades already.
But Akorda’s lawyers were presenting things in a totally different way in the British court. They were asserting that I was being sued by a commercial bank that I had supposedly managed poorly in the past, and that the Nazarbayev regime had nothing to do with this. "Just business."
Did the judge himself believe that this was “just business”? This is a very important question, which plays a key role in my case. Britain's judicial system does not exist in the vacuum of a vertical administrative hierarchy. Public opinion plays a huge role here. Newspapers, magazines, television - they all reflect the palette of public views, and the courts cannot take this into account.
But in my case there was no palette. It was replaced by a special information platform created by the efforts of Astana’s lobbyists in London. Keenly aware that British society has only a vague impression of just what Kazakhstan is, they used this fact to the fullest.
My contention that a key role in England against me was played by lobbyists is easily supported by the facts. For example, the very first and the most important order to freeze any assets to which I had even an indirect relation and not am even their legal owner was adopted by judge William Blair – brother of former British prime minister Tony Blair.
This was at the end of August 2009. I had already been living more than half a year in England, I had filed a commercial court claim against the government of Kazakhstan regarding the illegal nationalization of «BTA Bank» and had given the English mass information media a significant number of interviews about how Nazarbayev had seized my bank and that there were political motives lying behind these actions. And here the secret order about the freezing comes out.
But this is not the only important thing: judge Blair had adopted the decision without hearing the other side. Not only that, the judge issued an order that we, the defendants in the claims, have to surrender our passports. Without even having been heard, we had been found to be violators. If the judge had not been Blair, but someone else, then one could still suppose that the judge hadn’t fully understood the situation and had adopted a hasty decision. But this was Blair, who well knew what kind of a country Kazakhstan is and just who Nazarbayev is.
Or take, for example, the way in which the decisions were adopted regarding the assets, with respect to which the judge had decided that I had "concealed" then and had in this way shown disrespect for the court. The judge did not have a single document that would prove that I was the owner of the assets he was ruling were mine and freezing. Legally, they belonged to other people. Thus it was, for example, that they ascribed to me the home of the famous businessman Nurlan Smagulov in England. Smagulov brought to the court all the evidence that this was his real estate, including the payment documents, but as far as I know, this house, where his family lives, is still frozen as supposedly my property.
And one could give dozens of such examples. For instance, the English judge issued an order that I must tell everything about my assets to the court, as well as to BTA’s English lawyers, and that these lawyers are not going to pass on the information to their client – «BTA Bank» of Kazakhstan. I offered to give information only to the English judge, fearing persecution of the people who had worked in companies belonging to me or had had business with them. And it turned out that I was right to be worried. Of course, the bank’s lawyers, just like I had said to the court, passed on all the information to BTA, and people started being hunted down using the whole might of the law enforcement of Kazakhstan (as well as those of Russia and Ukraine).
Such primitive methods as the following were used to achieve the official transfer of information from the English lawyers to their client «BTA Bank», and correspondingly to the regime of Kazakhstan. A work-for-hire article in which this or that business of mine is described, surnames are indicated, etc. is “organized” on the Internet or in some unknown newspaper in Byelorussia and Kyrgyzstan. Afterwards the bank's lawyers approach the judge and say: "Look, mister judge, here we are concealing everything from our client «BTA Bank», but this information has become public, it’s already come out on the Internet in Byelorussia and Kyrgyzstan." And the judge agrees to disclose the information, people start getting pulled in for interrogations and locked up in jails, factually because of working together with me.
And how did they shut down in England the satellite television channel «K+», which had an English license for international broadcasting? No, they didn’t strip it of the license in England. Look at just how closely coordinated the actions of the Kazakhstan authorities and the English court were.
In December of 2012, the authorities in Kazakhstan banned the independent opposition newspapers «Respublika», and «Vzglyad», the news portal «Stan TV», the televisionchannel «K+», and the websites associated with them supposedly for "extremist propaganda", and in actuality for objective coverage of the tragedy in Zhanaozen and Shetpe.
On 25 January 2013, an English judge issues a secret order for the freezing of the «K+» company and accounts, as well as attaching the companies that own the domain names Kplus-tv.net, stan.tv and respublika-kz.com, on the basis of declarations by «BTA Bank» about how they are a part of Ablyazov’s group. The English court’s secret order was made public in England only on 22 February 2013, on that very same day when a Kazakhstan court had adopted a decision to ban broadcasting by «K+» on the territory of Kazakhstan and to close the rest of the opposition mass information media.
In this instance, the Kazakhstan regime made use not only of «BTA Bank», but of English courts as well (as a tool to establish control and to neutralize the companies that owned the opposition channel «K+» ) with the aim of suppressing the opposition in Kazakhstan.
Factually, by his actions the English British judge had supported the criminal regime of Kazakhstan. Of course, he will say yet again that he does not see any politics in my case and that he had been approached by a bank with claims, and that he had adopted a non-political, but for some reason secret decision.
As concerns these disputes with Kazakhstan, a judge in England, who does not know Kazakhstan, its laws and realities, should not have been considering any claims from a Kazakhstan bank at all or he should have then delved into everything thoroughly and probed into the political component. Alas, the English judge did nothing of the sort. And this means one can not even speak about fairness, even in the European sense of this word.
Many of our fellow citizens, Sergei, write that if I had been in the right, I should have proven my rightness in the courts of Kazakhstan! Apparently, many have forgotten or do not know that I had already taken that path in 2002, and in the end they put me in jail. And you too, Sergei, have experienced the same thing yourself. I know that for sure that in such a war with the state, when all methods of annihilation are used, up to and including criminal ones, there is no chance to continue to struggle from prison, even if it is an English one.
In Russia I tried to cooperate with the investigation, when the criminal case based on the complaint by «BTA Bank» had just been opened in 2010. Through my Russian lawyer, I reported to the investigator on numerous occasions about my whereabouts and my desire to cooperate with the investigation and to answer all his questions. However, investigator Urzhumtsev (just like Budilo, from the Magnitsky List) refused to ask me any questions and instead illegally placed me on a wanted list as a person who has absconded from the investigation and whose whereabouts are unknown.
Judge Krivoruchko (also Magnitsky List figurant) issued the corresponding search and arrest decree. Thus did they make me illegitimate in Russia. By the way, the given circumstance was not disclosed in the extradition request from Russia, while evidence of my illegal placement on a wanted list was ignored by the court of Lyon.
The decision to leave England was very difficult for me to make. This was one of the most difficult decisions for me. I understood perfectly well the consequences of such a step and how it would be used by my opponents. But unfortunately, that world which seems to be a stupid and absurd thriller to outside observers is everyday reality for me. Even my advisors, seeing the scale and the level of the pursuits, were surprised that I was still alive.
I have a clear picture of how the system works in the West, and, having learned from bitter experience, I know what to expect from "our guys". And I have too good a personal knowledge of Nazarbayev, who cruelly disposed of Sarsenbayev, Nurkadilov and others of his opponents. If I had not left Britain in time, they would have crushed me there a long time ago.
But even I, who know the true face of the regime, was amazed when they snatched my family from Italy! I had expected any actions, including murder, against me, but to snatch a woman with a small child?! Where was the compliance with the law on the part of the policemen,, the prosecutor of Rome and the judge that took part in this crime? Is not Italy a democratic Western country, a member of the European Union? The scale of the influence of the Kazakhstan Nazarbayev lobby on the courts and the bodies of power in Western countries, Russia, and Ukraine is unbelievable!
Russia had to seize Crimea from Ukraine and unleash a war in order for the West to begin to start to realize: "Oh! It turns out that this isn’t an altogether democratic country!” But the prosecutors and judges in France even reached an agreement to the point where they declared: "Well, so what if there are several hundreds of violations of the Convention on Human Rights by Russia just in last year alone? This doesn’t mean at all that in the situation with Ablyazov, Russia is going to violate his rights!"
By the way, France made a special stipulation when signing the Convention on Human Rights. Its essence is that France reserves the right to refuse a requesting party if France puts on record violations of human rights, as well as situations that contradict the norms of French legislation. And so now, having in hand evidence of hundreds of human rights violations in Russia, evidence of the fabrication of my criminal case and of the lack of harm to Russia (which Russia, by the way, admits in the extradition documents), the judges declare (now in violation of French legislation already), that this does not mean that such problems are going to appear there with me specifically!
Of course, unquestionably, the Western justice system is significantly better than ours. The decisions of the court of Aix-en-Provence were reversed by the court of cassation. But then we likewise received evidence that the judges and the prosecutor of Aix-en-Provence had acted in collusion with my opponents and were obliged to file a criminal complaint against the judges and the prosecutor. I was transferred to Lyon and my case was sent for retrial.
A new trial, but the same conclusions – Russia’s guarantees can be trusted. Systemic violations of human rights in Russia and the "serious shortcomings of the Russian criminal justice system" cannot "be extended to the case of Mukhtar Ablyazov." We are again filing for cassation. Such disputes can go on for years, while I am going to be sitting in jail trying to prove something...
I think, Sergei, that we’ve got to soberly assess the West and the situation inside our country. In 2005, one American senator told me that "we, America, help the strong." And indeed, look at the events in Ukraine. When thousands of people took to the streets, America took a firm stance. Unfortunately, the political and civic activism of the citizens of Kazakhstan is very low. And this is the main reason why the governments of the Western countries are helping the regime of Nazarbayev – the "Leader of the Nation", who has ruled the country for 25 years already. If they understood that there are tens of thousands of adversaries of the regime who are ready to fight, then the cooperation and the support for Nazarbayev’s regime would be very limited, with stipulations, cautious and timid.
Sergei, I have never yet expressed how I feel about you. Let me take this opportunity to express my deep respect and admiration for your work and your civic stand. You have been persecuted and beaten, they have cut crosses into your body, they have slandered you, fabricated a case and threw you in jail for three years, but this has not stopped you.
Even when our opinions do not coincide, I still read all your articles with great pleasure. When people who hold such a firm civic stand as your do number in the hundreds, positive changes are going to take place in Kazakhstan.
Respectfully, Mukhtar Ablyazov
10Ablyazov: I did not steal but I was robbed – of the bank, my money and reputation
14France to extradite Ablyazov on Moscow's request. Mediapart about his case.
14France to extradite Ablyazov on Moscow's request. Mediapart about his case.
01French Ministry of Foreign Affairs erroneously hides behind the court proceedings when asked about Ablyazov
30Kazimierz Michał Ujazdowski appeals to Manuel Valls and Victor Shokin in the defence of Ablyazov
Interview with Mukhtar Ablyazov
Mukhtar Ablyazov on Nazarbayev’s Letter
Ablyazov’s memories: how he dropped out of school and got into business
Mukhtar Ablyazov with family
Why Spain Allow to Torture People?
- In a shocking decision, French Government Decrees Extradition of Kazakh dissident Mukhtar Ablyazov to Russia (.pdf, 0.42 MB)
- Report: Analysis of documents in the case of Ablyazov (.pdf, 0.37 MB)
- French Ministry of Foreign Affairs erroneously hides behind the court proceedings when asked about Ablyazov. (.jpg, 0.68 MB)
- Ukrainian deputy V. Kupriy calls on the parliament and the government of France to stand up against extradition of M. Ablyazov (., 0 MB)
- Ukrainian deputy V. Kupriy calls on the parliament and the government of France to stand up against extradition of M. Ablyazov (., 0 MB)