'Beatings and threats of deportation’ – Kazakh activists in Ukraine say they were mistreated by SBU

10 January 2022, 06:46 PM

Zamanbek Tleuliev and Yeldos Nasipbekov, two Kazakh activists living in Kyiv, claimed during a Facebook livestream on Jan. 10 that they were abused by agents of Ukraine’s SBU security service for the role they played in the recent protests in Kazakhstan.

Both are members of the Kazakh opposition movement Kazakhstan’s Democratic Choice.

Before moving to Kyiv, Tleuliev and Nasipbekov spent several years in their homeland campaigning for a peaceful transition of power in Kazakhstan away from long-time dictator Nursultan Nazarbayev’s regime. Nazarbayev has held political power in the country since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.

Video of day

On Jan. 6, during the peak of regime violence against Kazakh protesters, the activists say that SBU operatives raided their homes and threatened them with deportation.

Tleuliev claimed he was beaten by SBU agents during the raid.

“The SBU (operatives) plainly stated that they had come for me because of my efforts to coordinate the peaceful protests in Kazakhstan,” said Tleuliev

“They openly admitted to have come to deport me, in front of witnesses.”

However, once Tleuliev’s lawyers arrived, the SBU officers started treating him more respectfully, the activist said.

“Before (my lawyers arrived) I had nothing but threats of arrest and accusations being hurled at me,” said Tleuliev.

“My neighbors say I was being framed and portrayed as a terrorist and a lunatic to them.”

His fellow activist, Nasipbekov, further accused the SBU of attempting coercion and psychological manipulation.

“When I spoke with SBU operatives, they threatened me,” Nasipbekov said.

“They said an armed squad would come the next day to deport me back to Kazakhstan, unless I agree to talk to them alone,” he said. “The SBU said they could have me detained at the stairwell, where there would be no witnesses, and have me deported to Kazakhstan at once.”

Nasipbekov added that while SBU left him physically unharmed, he was met with threats and demands that he refrain from further political activism in Kazakhstan.

“SBU operatives told me to publicly renounce my views in a video, to claim I was but a pawn in some geopolitical game, if I wanted to avoid deportation and remain safe,” said Nasipbekov.

“Fearing for my life, I renounced any further role in Kazakh protests, in writing.”

The activists first reported these incidents on Jan. 6, when Tleuliev posted a video that showed him missing teeth as a result of the alleged mistreatment.

In a comment to Ukrainian news outlet Ukrayinska Pravda, the SBU said that its officers were polite and cordial, adding that no Kazakh citizens were currently detained in Ukraine.

However, the security service claimed that it had uncovered a number of Kazakhs illegally residing in the country, and said it had referred those cases to the State Migration Service of Ukraine.

Over the past week, the political crisis in Kazakhstan has spilled over into violent protests that have reportedly claimed dozens of lives. Foreign armed forces from the Collective Security Treaty Organization, a military alliance that includes Russia and Belarus, have entered Kazakhstan to pacify and stabilize the country.

Kazakhstan President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev called those protesting across the country “terrorists”, fired his prime minister and key law enforcement figures, and has replaced Nazarbayev as the head of the country’s security council.

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