Kazakh asylum seekers in Ukraine allege mistreatment by Ukrainian security service

7 January 2022, 03:10 AM

Kazakh asylum seekers and activists in Ukraine have accused officers from Ukraine’s SBU security service harassment and assault, according to a tweet by Kazakh lawyer and refugee Bota Jardemalie.

One asylum seeker, Yeldos Nasipbekov, is said to have not been seen since he and another activist received a visit from individuals identifying themselves as members of the SBU. At least one other Kazakh opposition activist in Kyiv has also tweeted about an assault allegedly by members of the security service.

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In a statement to online Ukrainian newspaper Ukrayinska Pravda, the SBU confirmed that it was currently conducting checks of Kazakh citizens in Ukraine, due to what the SBU says are “possible Russian provocations amid the protests in Kazakhstan.”

 The SBU did not officially confirm the detention status of any Kazakh citizens, though they claimed to have encountered immigration and visa violations during their inspections.

 “Certain individuals show signs of illegally being on the territory of Ukraine,” the SBU said. “Relevant materials have been prepared, which will be transferred to the State Migration Service of Ukraine.”

 “The SBU is taking measures to effectively protect the safety of Ukrainian citizens,” the agency added.  “Especially considering the Russian factor and possible provocations from the Russian Federation, which may discredit our state in the international arena and harm its interests.”

 Kazakhstan has been in the grip of mass protests since early January 2022, after the removal of subsidies for liquefied petroleum gas, a common cheap alternative to gasoline, caused prices to spike. The protests quickly turned into anti-government demonstrations, calling for the removal of longtime dictator Nursultan Nazarbayev from the country’s political sphere.

 Kazakh authorities have responded with force, and reports from within the country allege that dozens of protesters have been killed.

In a televised address, Kazakhstan President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev has accused the protesters of being “terrorists” and “outside provocateurs”, and has authorized the Kazakh security services to use lethal force against protesters without warning. A state of emergency has been declared throughout the country.

The Collective Security Treaty Organization, or CSTO,  a military alliance including Russia, Belarus, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and others, announced a decision to send troops to Kazakhstan, after an appeal from Tokayev.

On the morning of Jan. 6, the CSTO Secretariat reported that troops from the contingent had already begun to conduct “pacification actions” in the country.

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