Uproar in French media after the decision to extradite Ablyazov
© mukhtarablyazov.org 10.03.2015

On 4 March, the cassation court upheld the prior judgments on the extradition of Mukhtar Ablyazov. It is now up to the French government to decide whether the Kazakh dissident and oppositionist will be transferred to Russia or Ukraine which, beyond any doubt – in the case of extradition – will hand him over to the Kazakh authorities. Soon after the court’s decision, there was an uproar in the French media, and Ablyazov’s case was covered by, inter alia, Reuters and AFP.

Most of the press emphasised the threat involved in potential extradition in similar cases, seven other European states did not allow the extradition of political refugees. Representatives of non-governmental organisations engaged in the defence of human rights who have been pleading for months now not to allow Ablyazov’s rendition to the Russian or Ukrainian authorities.

In its article, Reuters wrote, amongst other things, about the support provided to the dissident by one of the leaders of Russian opposition Garry Kasparov. AFP, in turn, cited Peter Sahlas, Ablyazov’s defence lawyer, who pointed out the value of Putin’s word in the face of the current geopolitical situation. In the lawyer’s view, the price of extradition to Russia may be his client’s life.

The case was also covered by Le Figaro which mentioned the recent death of Nemtsov and doubted whether Russia could guarantee security to Ablyazov. The atlantico.fr portal openly questioned whether France would dare to refuse Putin. At the same time, the article listed persons engaged in the matter of the former President of BTA Bank, emphasising in particular, the involvement of the former head of French intelligence, Bernard Squarcini, who is now working for Kazakhstan.

Le Monde argued that the case is a nuisance for the French government because of its political dimension: Ablyazov’s earlier activities, the involvement of Russian authorities who are tightening their political line and the alliance between Russia and Kazakhstan.

“His fate is in the government’s hands” – in an article with such a title, Paris Match pointed to similar cases of political refugees who faced politically motivated charges in trials in Italy, Spain, Switzerland or Austria. In those countries, no consent was ultimately granted for the extradition of individuals associated with Ablyazov.

Apart from the media, Ablyazov was also supported by the Director of the French branch of Human Rights Watch, Jean-Marie Fardeau, who wrote on Twitter: “the French authorities should not extradite Ablyazov either to Russia or to Ukraine”, emphasising, at the same time, the risks of “maltreatment and unfair trial.”

Interview with Peter Sahlas, Ablyazov’s defence lawyer, for AFP:

Sources: ReutersAFPLe Figaroatlantico.frLe MondeEuronewsparismatch.com