Aleksandr Pavlov

Former chief of security for Mukhtar Ablyazov and head of an independent Kazakh media group, Respublika. In late July 2014, after spending over a year in remand custody, he was released on bail. At that time, a battle was being fought for his extradition to Kazakhstan or asylum in Spain. 

Kazakhstan accuses Pavlov of having set up a company with the intention of misappropriating 363 620 000 tenge (EUR 1,8 m) in 2007 (article 28, paragraph 5, 176, item 3 b,c). Along with Muratbek Ketebayev and Mukhtar Ablyazov, he has also been accused of preparation of a terrorist act that allegedly took place in Almaty on March 24, 2012 (article 24, paragraph 1 and article 233, paragraph 1 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Kazakhstan). Based on fabricated evidence, the authorities of Kazakhstan demand his extradition.

In December 2012, Pavlov was arrested in Madrid based on Interpol’s Red Notice of May 2012. The notice was issued by Kazakhstan, citing alleged embezzlement crimes. Later that same month, Pavlov appeared before the Central Investigation Court in Madrid, who decided to temporarily detain Pavlov, while waiting for an official extradition request from Kazakhstan. In the Kazakh request that reached the Spanish court in early January 2013 more accusations were mentioned, related not only to embezzlement but also to the preparation of terrorist acts in Kazakhstan.

Interpol as a tool for the regime

  • Kazakh authorities are using Interpol to pursue opposition activists across Europe
  • Interpol’s Red Notice was issued for Mukhtar Ablyazov and Aleksander Pavlov as well as others

Earlier, in March 2012, the Prosecutor General in Kazakhstan issued a press release, reporting on the success of the special services, who had managed to prevent terrorist acts in Almaty. Violating the presumption of innocence principle, they accused Pavlov along with other Kazakh dissidents - Mukhtar Ablyazov and Muratbek Ketebayev, who have been forced to go into hiding abroad.

In January 2013, Pavlov informed the prison administration and the court of his intention to file a political asylum request in Spain. The request was drafted in late January and filed for processing in February.

In April 2013, the Supreme Court of Spain (Audiencia Nacional) held a hearing on Ablyazov’s former coworker. The court refused to proceed with his extradition, pointing to poorly translated documents, but allowed the Kazakh side to present new documents along with a new extradition request. Also, in April, Pavlov was released; as it turned out, only for a very brief period. In May his trial was picked up as Kazakhstan filed new documents. At the same time, the Spanish intelligence agency, Centro Nacional de Inteligencia (CNI), drafted a special report that said that Pavlov, charged with preparing terrorist acts in Kazakhstan, posed a threat to Spanish security. The report was the only form of consultation revealed by the Spanish authorities in the examination of Pavlov’s asylum request. According to the lawyers representing the Kazakh oppositionist, the report merely repeated the official charges coming from Kazakhstan. The asylum case had numerous procedural irregularities: Defence lawyers were not allowed to express their position in writing; representatives of the UNHCR were not given a voice either. Throughout the trial, Pavlov remained in a maximum security prison, was isolated and had restricted access to the facility staff - all this despite the fact that no terrorism-related investigation into Pavlov was being conducted in Spain.

In June 2013, another hearing was held. The judge stated that he had no reason to presume that Spain was going to grant Pavlov's asylum request as it had been decided that his extradition process would continue. In June the same year Pavlov was arrested again in Spain, while on July 5, 2013 he was refused asylum in Spain, the decision having been made based on the CNI report.  

On July 22, it was decided that the oppositionist would be rendered to the Kazakh authorities. Pavlov's defence attorney appealed against this verdict. In the meantime, a number of human rights organisations and politicians had been calling for the release of Ablyazov's former coworker. On July 25 2013 Amnesty International published a letter ("urgent measure”), stressing that should Pavlov be extradited, there would be a high risk of him being tortured. On August 29 2013 MEP Raül Romeva filed a written enquiry with the European External Actions Service (EEAS), asking for an account of what had been done to prevent Pavlov's extradition. A letter to the Spanish Parliament in support of Pavlov's case was also sent by Polish MPs: Marcin Święcicki and Tomasz Makowski.

In November 2013, the Audiencia Nacional court upheld its extradition verdict, with 10 judges having voted for it and 7 against. Ultimately, Pavlov's fate was to be decided by the Spanish government. The decision was made on February 14 2014, when Spanish authorities issued a secret decree allowing the extradition. No official communication was published on the matter, however. Pavlov's attorney was never informed of the decision to extradite him, and he learnt about it accidentally on February 18. The following day, Pavlov was nearly handed over to Kazakhstan. But the extradition process was successfully suspended.

The turning point in Pavlov's case took place in July 2014. On July 29, the Spanish court sanctioned his release pending trial. The judges who signed the decision estimated that the risk of Pavlov fleeing the country was "minimal, if not nonexistent." Also, in July, the Audiencia Nacional decided to reopen his asylum case before the Office for Asylum and Refugees (OAR), which meant the rejection of the controversial CNI conclusions stated in their much challenged report. Thus the decision of the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs to refuse Pavlov asylum was rendered unlawful.

After the posting of the 30 thousand euro bail, Pavlov was released from custody on July 31. His release pending trial raises hope for a breakthrough in the case: up to that point, Spanish authorities had not acknowledged the political nature of the case.

Upon the release of Ablyazov's former coworker, Kazakhstan appealed against the verdict. In August,the Audiencia Nacional dismissed the appeal.