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Amnesty International Report 2004 - Kazakstan

Publisher Amnesty International
Publication Date 26 May 2004
Cite as Amnesty International, Amnesty International Report 2004 - Kazakstan , 26 May 2004, available at: [accessed 19 January 2022]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Covering events from January - December 2003

A moratorium on executions was introduced pending abolition of the death penalty. One opposition leader was pardoned and released from prison; another continued to serve a long prison sentence. An independent journalist was imprisoned on allegedly fabricated criminal charges.


In March a US businessman and former adviser to President Nazarbayev was arrested in the USA and charged with "making unlawful payments to Kazak government officials" under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. The authorities in Kazakstan allegedly tried to prevent the press from reporting the so-called "Kazakgate" affair.

Death penalty

In his annual address to the nation in April, President Nazarbayev urged the government to create the necessary conditions for introducing a moratorium on the death penalty and called for the introduction of life imprisonment. Officials in Kazakstan were unable to confirm whether a de facto moratorium on executions was in place after a press release issued in July on behalf of President Nazarbayev by an international consultancy group in France claimed that no executions would be carried out in Kazakstan until January 2004 when a moratorium would enter into force. In October President Nazarbayev was quoted by Kazak media as saying that Kazakstan was not ready for a moratorium on the death penalty. In November AI learned that four men were executed. In December, President Nazarbayev signed into law a moratorium on executions.

Political prisoners

Supporters of the secular opposition and members of independent media continued to report harassment by the authorities.

  • In April Mukhtar Ablyazov, one of two imprisoned leaders of the main opposition Democratic Choice of Kazakstan (DVK) movement, appealed to President Nazarbayev for clemency. He was released under a presidential amnesty in May; he had allegedly been beaten and ill-treated in detention to force him to abandon opposition political activities. In October the presidential clemency commission said that it could not consider a petition for clemency submitted by the other imprisoned DVK leader, Galymzhan Zhakiyanov, because the National Security Committee (KNB) had brought new criminal charges against him. Concerns by his family and supporters over his deteriorating health had reportedly prompted him to appeal for pardon on humanitarian grounds. Mukhtar Ablyazov and Galymzhan Zhakiyanov were sentenced to prison in 2002 for "abuse of office" and financial crimes. They were apparently targeted because of their peaceful opposition activities.
  • Sergey Duvanov, an independent journalist, was sentenced to three and a half years in prison in January after he was convicted of raping an underage girl. His trial, according to international observers, fell far short of international fair trial standards and may have been politically motivated. Since his arrest in October 2002 Sergey Duvanov had maintained his innocence and said that his conviction was an attempt to punish him for articles implicating government officials and the President in the "Kazakgate" affair. The appeal court refused to admit two independent experts commissioned by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) to attend the hearing and upheld the original verdict. In November the Supreme Court turned down an appeal filed by Sergey Duvanov's legal team for a review of his case.

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