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From The Socialist newspaper, 29 August 2012

Kazakhstan: Human rights campaigner Vadim Kuramshin freed

Campaign Kazakhstan protest in London 26 July 2012 against UK business links with the Kazakhstan regime, photo Dave Carr

Campaign Kazakhstan protest in London 26 July 2012 against UK business links with the Kazakhstan regime, photo Dave Carr   (Click to enlarge)

The well-known Kazakhstan human rights activist, Vadim Kuramshin, was released from custody on 28 August. The judge announced this surprise result after the months-long ordeal that Vadim has undergone. Instead of the threatened 14 years imprisonment under a specially harsh regime, he was freed with just one year of conditional bail.

Statement from Vadim's supporters in Kazakhstan

Taraz city court today (28 August) pronounced sentence on Vadim, who had been facing trumped-up charges of extorting money from the Kordai district prosecutor Mukhtar Uderbaev, who Vadim himself wanted to take legal action against.

At the end of the protracted trial lasting the whole of the summer, the state prosecutor had asked the court to condemn Vadim to 14 years imprisonment in a special regime colony, but the judge, Samat Tolesbay, decided differently.

Vadim Kuramshin was arrested on 23 January this year. The whole trial clearly violated the Criminal Procedure Code and was constantly postponed, causing Vadim to declare a hunger strike in order to get the court to reconvene.

The judge, Tolesbay, still delayed a final decision several times. This aroused great fears about the outcome, but also some hopes that the international outcry about the treatment of this human rights lawyer might be having an effect.

Campaign Kazakhstan protest in London 26 July 2012 against UK business links with the Kazakhstan regime, photo Dave Carr

Campaign Kazakhstan protest in London 26 July 2012 against UK business links with the Kazakhstan regime, photo Dave Carr   (Click to enlarge)

The worst fears were not confirmed. Vadim was convicted only of one incriminating act (under Article 327 of the Criminal Code) - "arbitrariness" - receiving one year of conditional freedom. He was immediately released.

Vadim could not hide his joy. This is what he said over the phone immediately after the announcement: "First of all, I want to thank all my friends and colleagues who have conducted an energetic campaign to support me; it helped me enormously.

"Indeed, there has never been a result like this on previous occasions when I have been convicted for clearly political reasons.

"This time my lawyers have literally carried out a miracle! I myself began to tease my counsel, Razia Nurmasheva, that she had become a sumo wrestler. That's how the lawyer looked when she went into battle over this crazy, unfounded accusation against me.

"Of course, the active campaigning of my friends and comrades, their constant support and the wide media coverage they were able to get, have also played a very big role in the outcome of this case, for which there was clearly no basis in the law."

From his words it is clear that he has not yet fully taken in the fact that he is free, with just the one year of conditions.

"For now, I am just amazed that I am standing here giving interviews to journalists, to whom I would also like to express my gratitude. I have special thanks to express to [CWI members] Ainur Kurmanov, Esenbek Ukteshbaev and their comrades. And, of course, to my guardian angel, Jhan Baytelova.

"Now, most of all, I want to take into my arms my son Damir, who was born while I have been in jail in Taraz."

For updates and more on political repression in Kazakhstan, see campaignkazakhstan.org

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In The Socialist 29 August 2012:


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