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23.6.2020: Media reaction

See below a media reaction following the sentencing of Alnur Ilyashev. We will be sharing a formal update as soon as possible.

28.04.2020: Latest news

The Amnesty team has spoken to Anul Ilyashev’s family and learned about quite worrying developments that indicate it is crucial to step up our efforts as soon as possible - CLICK HERE

The authorities are clearly acting in great haste, unusual for them – possibly because they are feeling the pressure and hope to be done with it as soon as they can. Outrageously, they forced Alnur’s lawyer to sign a legal document preventing him from disclosing publicly any details of the case. A second lawyer stepped in – and he too, has now been compelled to sign the same legal document. Effectively, the case has been classified until the trial. The second lawyer is trying to appeal, but he will not be successful – this is a tried and tested trick used by the authorities when they do not want bad publicity. Moreover, Alnur’s lawyers have been summoned by the investigation for tomorrow (29 April): the authorities want Alnur and his lawyers to immediately familiarise themselves with the case materials. This means the «investigation» into his «crime» is over, and the case will go to court any day after that. The family are concerned that while the hearing should be open by law, it will effectively be closed on technical grounds, because of COVID-19 restrictions. This is bad news.
We will keep you posted as soon as we know more about the start of the trial, but in the meantime, please do continue acting so that as many emails as possible reach the Prosecutor General and his deputies. Thank you for your support!

Please do also use social media if possible:

Facebook page:
@GenProkRK #FreeAlnur Ilyashev! He criticised #Khazakhstan’s government? This isn’t a crime. An innocent person deprived of freedom? This is!
@GenProkRK #FreeAlnur Ilyashev. To criticise Nur Otan and the government is his right. To prosecute him for this is wrong. To use #COVID-19 as excuse is outrageous!

Activist jailed for criticsm during pandemic

AI-Index: EUR 57/2227/2020

Kazakhstani human rights activist, Alnur Ilyashev, has been arrested for his publications on social media that criticised the ruling Nur Otan party and its handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. He is being prosecuted for «spreading false information» that harms «interests» during the state in emergency, a crime which carries up to seven years in prison. Alnur Ilyashev is a prisoner of conscience and must be released immediately and unconditionally.


In the late evening on 17 April, police arrested human rights activist Alnur Ilyashev at an office, and then visited two family homes in Almaty, Kazakhstan’s biggest city. In an apparent attempt to frighten the family, police used intimidation and physical force against his relatives. In one of the homes, Alnur Ilyashev’s 17-year-old daughter was alone with a friend, also a minor. The police officers took away the girls’ phones preventing them from calling any adults and proceeded to search the flat. His daughter had a panic attack and repeatedly lost consciousness. Police were still searching the flat when her mother arrived and called an ambulance. The ambulance crew attended to the girl in the presence of the police officers. Police officers left both homes in a state of deliberate disorder. The following day Alnur Ilyashev was remanded in custody for two months.

The criminal proceedings against Alnur Ilyashev have been opened under Article 274 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Kazakhstan («dissemination of knowingly false information that threatens public order»), and specifically under part 4(2) which applies in a state of emergency and imposes an increased penalty of between three and seven years’ imprisonment. The investigating police officer listed Alnur Ilyashev’s publications on Facebook, YouTube, and in other social media platforms, dated between 29 February and 28 March 2020, as the grounds for his prosecution and evidence of his «crime». In them, the activist alleges that the ruling Nur Otan party and the authorities in Kazakhstan are corrupt and incompetent, including in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Alnur Ilyashev is a principled advocate of peaceful activism and has been campaigning for human rights and strict observance of the law and the Constitution by the authorities. The unduly restrictive law governing peaceful assemblies in Kazakhstan requires their organisers to receive the authorities’ prior permission for any street protest. To make his point, Alnur Ilyashev, repeatedly and tirelessly requested a permission to hold a rally and that was consistently refused 35 times. He unsuccessfully challenged the refusals in court. Finally, permission was granted in June 2019, after which he organised a peaceful assembly that was attended by more than 100 people. According to his lawyer, Alnur Ilyashev will not discuss any deals with the prosecuting authorities and intends to stand trial and defend his innocence in court. In a hand-written note addressed to his relatives and friends, Alnur Ilyashev assured them that he was fine and asked them to remain calm, asked for some books, and concluded with his familiar personal slogan «God and the Constitution are on our side!».

The ruling political party Nur Otan was founded by President Nursultan Nazarbaev in 1999, and he has since been its chair, including after he resigned from his position as president in March 2019. After his resignation he retained the official title «First President of Kazakhstan» and continued to wield considerable political power. Successive parliamentary elections that have been criticised by international observers as far from free and fair, have ensured that Nur Otan remained the only party represented in the legislature.

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