French Court Becomes Next Theatre of Ablyazov’s Battle Against Kazakh Dictatorship
Ablyazov notified of russian extradition request, determined to fight off troika of ex-soviet states seeking his extrad. Ablyazov files complaint for investigation into court leak; appeals to french authorities to respect his rights to defense.
Aix-en-Provence, November 6, 2013 – On November 5, 2013, at the Court of Appeal of Aix-en-Provence, Kazakh regime opponent Mukhtar Ablyazov was notified that Russia is seeking his extradition on fraud allegations that he describes as “unfounded” and “absurd”. The Court will convene on November 7, 2013 to set a date for the Russian extradition request to be examined.
Since July 31, 2013, Ablyazov has been detained in France on the basis of a Ukrainian arrest warrant. On December 5, 2013, the Court of Appeal of Aix-en-Provence will examine a Ukrainian request for Ablyazov’s extradition. The Court will deal separately with the Russian extradition request, even though both requests are linked to Ablyazov’s battle with Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev over the unlawful 2009 nationalization of BTA Bank.
Moscow is acting in close cooperation with Astana to eliminate Ablyazov from the political scene and to justify Kazakhstan’s destruction and looting of BTA Bank, which since 2009 has been done with Russia’s complicity.
Commenting on the Russian extradition request, Ablyazov’s lawyer, Bruno Rebstock, stated: “Russia’s allegations are as unconvincing as those of Ukraine. I look forward to mounting a robust challenge to this extradition request. This case is no more than a pretext to get custody of Ablyazov so as to deliver him into the hands of a dictator who wants to destroy him.”
Meanwhile, against the backdrop of concerns that French authorities may be duped into lending credence to the allegations being made against him by Kazakhstan and its allies, Ablyazov has initiated actions in France to assert his rights against the injustices of his prolonged detention there.
On October 31, 2013, Ablyazov launched an action to shed light on how news was leaked to Ukraine that a French court was to refuse his conditional release in a ruling on October 3, 2013. The ruling was overshadowed by the release the night before of a news report by the official Ukrainian press agency, announcing the court’s decision in advance. The presiding judge concurred with Ablyazov’s defense that the news report emanating from Ukraine, which spread to major media across the former Soviet Union even before the decision was announced, was a indeed an “unusual fact”. Ablyazov’s defense has formally appealed for an investigation into the circumstances of the leak. Among the possibilities, Ablyazov’s defense has speculated that the leak may have resulted from a hacking of the court’s computer system. In France, violation of the confidentiality of judicial deliberations is a criminal offense.
Ablyazov has also launched actions to affirm his rights of access to legal advice and to family visits.
The public prosecutor in Aix-en-Provence has denied Ablyazov the right to telephone his lawyers from prison, obliging Ablyazov’s Paris-based lawyer and London-based lawyer to travel to Aix-en-Provence in order to speak with him. Barring telephone access to his lawyers is unusual, constituting a violation of Ablyazov’s defense rights. Ablyazov has also complained that he has not yet received a computer to facilitate his legal work, despite an approval that he be provided one in early September.
Until October 30, 2013, Ablyazov had to fight for permission to have his 12-year-old son visit him in prison. The boy has been without his mother since she and his 6-year-old sister were seized by Kazakh diplomats in Rome and unlawfully taken to Kazakhstan on May 31, 2013, where they are likely to be retained for years. Despite numerous requests, the public prosecutor in Aix-en-Provence repeatedly deprived visiting rights to Ablyazov’s son, despite the fact that many young children routinely visit their fathers in the same prison every week. The refusals were particularly shocking given that the child was parentless and given his fears that he was being deprived of the last opportunities to see his father before France hands him over to President Nazarbayev.
Before being forcibly and recklessly nationalized under orders from Kazakhstan’s President Nursultan Nazarbayev in February 2009, BTA Bank had been built by Ablyazov into one of the best-run and strongest financial institutions in the former Soviet Union. The nationalization triggered a crisis at the bank that brought it to the brink of bankruptcy. Ever since, Kazakhstan has been trying to pin blame for the nationalized bank’s woes on Ablyazov. With the Kazakh regime in total control of the country’s judicial and regulatory systems, and able to fabricate evidence and put pressure on witnesses as needed, the nationalized bank has pursued Ablyazov abroad in civil proceedings in the United Kingdom. Astana has also recruited Kiev and Moscow to assist in requesting Ablyazov’s arrest and extradition.
When Ablyazov was living in the United Kingdom from 2009 to 2012, British authorities never arrested him, regardless of requests for his arrest that Kazakhstan, Ukraine and Russia distributed internationally through Interpol. Ablyazov was granted political asylum in the United Kingdom in 2011.
France, however, arrested Ablyazov on July 31, 2013, after being located there by private detectives working for the nationalized Kazakh bank. Lacking an extradition treaty with France, Kazakhstan has made it clear that it hopes to get its hands on Ablyazov through Ukraine, which does have such a treaty and which would legally be obliged to hand Ablyazov over to Kazakhstan should France extradite him to Ukraine.
In 2011 London’s Metropolitan Police warned him that he was the target of a plot to assassinate or kidnap him on British soil. He left England. In May 2013 his wife and six-year-old daughter were kidnapped in Italy by three diplomats, backed by Kazakh law enforcement agencies, who lied to Italian officials to secure their cooperation in an illegal deportation.
14The case of Mukhtar Ablyazov and Alexandr Pavlov
13French court to decide on extradition of Ablyazov
06Appeal Court sets date for trial
10France has refused to extradite Mukhtar Ablyazov to Russia and Ukraine
10France has refused to extradite Mukhtar Ablyazov to Russia and Ukraine
Ablyazov’s memories: how he dropped out of school and got into business
Mukhtar Ablyazov with family
Mukhtar Ablyazov: Prison Camp Experience
The Italian television channel ‘TG1’ about the kidnapping of Ablyazov’s family members
Akorda’s political hostages
- The case of Tatiana Paraskevich: Through misuse of the EU's justice system, Kazakhstan's lobbyists seek to have Paraskevich's asylum status revoked (.pdf, 0.32 MB)
- The Open Dialog Foundation welcomes Lithuania’s decision to deny the extradition of Syrym Shalabayev to Kazakhstan or Ukraine (.pdf, 0.33 MB)
- Prominent Russian human rights activists сalled for preventing the extradition of Mukhtar Ablyazov (.pdf, 0.18 MB)
- Human rights defenders write to Lithuanian authorities in support of Syrym Shalabayev (., 0 MB)
- In a shocking decision, French Government Decrees Extradition of Kazakh dissident Mukhtar Ablyazov to Russia (.pdf, 0.42 MB)