Half a year in custody
© mukhtarablyazov.org 31.01.2014

Exactly half a year ago, on 31 July, 2013, Mukhtar Ablyazov was arrested by the French special forces in southern France, near Cannes. The arrest took place on the basis of an Interpol red notice. At the same time, requests for Ablyazov’s extradition were filed by Ukraine and the Russian Federation.

The court in Aix-en-ProvenceSince 1 August, Ablyazov has been remanded in custody in Aix-en-Provence. The court rejected the possibility of his release on bail, citing a risk to his safety. In late September, a court in Aix-en-Provence upheld the decision to maintain Ablyazov’s incarceration. On 5 December, 2013, it held the first hearing in the case of Ablyazov’s extradition. The session was twice postponed. Finally, on 9 January, the court granted both requests for extradition – Ukraine’s and the Russian Federation’s.

The court's decision has quickly become the subject of discussion in the world media. French press mostly distanced itself from the ruling. International human rights organisations, such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, called for the prevention of Ablyazov’s extradition, citing political overtones in the case. Both organisations also drew attention to the risk of rendering Ablyazov to Kazakhstan, where he cannot expect to receive a fair trial. France hasn’t concluded a bilateral extradition agreement with Kazakhstan, and so Ukraine and the Russian Federation may act on behalf of Astana. The Russian Federation and Ukraine routinely cooperate with former Soviet republics, such as Kazakhstan, within the scope of rendering activists prosecuted by the regime. But in December, the French court assured that Russia and Ukraine would not break the extradition treaty with France.

Ablyazov’s counsels filed an appeal against the decision to extradite their client. If the appeal is rejected, he will have to appeal the decision in the Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. At the same time, the dissident’s family is warning: bringing Ablyazov to Kazakhstan might be tantamount to imposing the death penalty on him.

Kazakhstan and the case of Ablyazov

BBC News Analyst from Almaty, Abdujalil Abdurasulov, noted that Kazakh society is indifferent to the case of Ablyazov – ‘Political activism is strongly discouraged there’. In a country which does not tolerate the wealthy political elite, Ablyazov cannot win sympathy. Large-scale state propaganda, which continues to draw attention to the embezzlement, allegedly committed ​​by Ablyazov, convinces part of society of the dissident’s guilt. Those who try to present him as a main political opponent, are subjected to oppression.


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