Kazakh Court Rejects Appeal for Activist Kozlov

Freedom House condemns a Kazakhstani court’s decision to reject the appeal of opposition activist and leader of the unregistered Alga! Party, Vladimir Kozlov. Kozlov was sentenced October 8th to 7½ years in prison for inciting social hatred, calling for the overthrow of the constitutional order of the state, and creating an organized criminal group. The charges were originally levied against Kozlov following the government’s violent suppression of riots in the town of Zhanaozen in December 2011.

Freedom House has monitored Kozlov’s trial since it began on August 16. Freedom House’s findings showed there were gross violations of due process that undermined Kozlov’s right to a fair trial.

“The rejected appeal further consolidates authoritarian trends in Kazakhstan,” said Susan Corke, director for Eurasia programs at Freedom House. “The government of Kazakhstan tries to promote an image of stability and democratic reform, but until all can be guaranteed the right to a fair trial, including for legitimate political activities, this will not be true in practice.”

Freedom House is deeply concerned that Kozlov's conviction will serve as a pretext for cracking down on other opposition groups, critics of the government, and independent civil society in Kazakhstan.  A "documentary" aired on state television station Khabar late last week portraying Kozlov as the figurehead of a vast criminal conspiracy.

“The government of Kazakhstan must refrain from pursuing further crackdowns. Genuine modernization in Kazakhstan can only be achieved through allowing political competition and respect for fundamental rights,” Corke concluded.

Kazakhstan is rated Not Free in Freedom of the World 2012, Freedom House’s annual survey of fundamental freedoms, Not Free in Freedom of the Press 2012, where it ranked 175th out of 197 countries, and Partly Free in Freedom on the Net 2012.

Learn more:

Freedom in the World 2012: Kazakhstan

Freedom of the Press 2012: Kazakhstan

Freedom on the Net 2012: Kazakhstan

Nations in Transit 2012: Kazakhstan

First Monitoring Report Documents Violations in Kozlov Trial

Second Monitoring Report Documents Further Violations of Fair Trial in Kozlov Case

Third Monitoring Report Shows Grievous Violations of the Right to a Fair Trial in Kozlov Process

Blog: Freedom at Issue