Five for Hooliganism

by Nathan Hamm on 5/16/2006

A member of Kazakhstan’s opposition “For A Just Kazakhstan” coalition has been sentence to five years in prison for insulting the president and hooliganism, also known as organizing civil unrest. The convicted is Alibek Jumabaev, an activist for presidential candidate Zharmakhan Tuyakbai. According to the AP, Jumabaev’s crime was throwing a bottle at a Nazarbaev billboard and threatening to stage a revolution.

Tuyakbai responded,

We consider Alibek Zhumabaev’s conviction and sentence of five years in prison to be a politically motivated move to punish him for his political activities, specifically the open expression of his attitude toward the current regime. The accusation put forward against him, which is something like ‘organizing mass disorder,’ does not correspond to any law or justice.

If putting the screws to the opposition is a policy from the top, it simply makes no sense. If it is a policy tolerated by the president, it still makes no sense. If Kazakhstan wants to truly set itself apart from the rest of the region and do things like chair the OSCE, it would do well to make sure things like publicly expression of dislike for Nursultan Nazarbaev is not a jailable offense.

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Nathan is the founder and Principal Analyst for Registan, which he launched in 2003. He was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Uzbekistan 2000-2001 and received his MA in Central Asian Studies from the University of Washington in 2007. Since 2007, he has worked full-time as an analyst, consulting with private and government clients on Central Asian affairs, specializing in how socio-cultural and political factors shape risks and opportunities and how organizations can adjust their strategic and operational plans to account for these variables. More information on Registan's services can be found here, and Nathan can be contacted via Twitter or email.

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