Turkmen Government Ratchets Up Pressure on Political Prisoner

by Joshua Foust on 1/23/2012 · 1 comment

Dr. Andrea Rauter sends along this very bizarre story of the Turkmen government harassing a horse breeder. She provided this translation from the German:

The presidential elections in Turkmenistan scheduled to take place on 12 February this year bring new harassment and threat to Geldy Kyarizov, former director of the Government Association Turkmenatlary (Turkmen Horses) and an internationally renowned breeder of Akhal Teke horses.

Geldy Kyarizov, aged 61, is a world known breeder of an ancient horse breed, the Akhal Teke. This most rare breed is the pride of Turkmenistan, source of its national identity, part of its emblem and printed on any of the country’s banknotes. So his position as a director of the Government Association Turkmenatlary (Turkmen Horses) was more than just a symbolic act of acknowledgement by the former president Saparmurat Niyazov.

Kyarizov used his knowledge and influence to re-establish the breed which had suffered during the Soviet times and he put much effort into saving the purity of this cultural heritage.

This seems to have caused severe irritation among other breeders, businessmen interested in the country´s most popular horse race industry, who bred the Akhal Teke to English Thoroughbred horses in order to make them faster.

The conflict allegedly cost Kyarizov the favour of the “Turkmenbashi” and led to his arrest in January 2002 on charges including “abuse of office” and “negligence”. Following a trial that according to Amnesty International was not in line with international fair trial standards he was sentenced to six years imprisonment in April 2002.

During his arrest he is said to have been mentally and physically tortured, was declared dead to his family, suffered from a stroke and was in a very bad state of health when finally released in 2007.
International attention to this case and foreign help probably saved Kyarizov´s life.

Until then the new political head, President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov, would not give neither Kyarizov, nor his wife Yulia Serebryannik and their family any chance to recover.

In March 2010 Kyarizov’s stud farm was reported to have been confiscated, including all his precious Akhal Teke horses. This deprived the family of any possibility to make a living. Kyarizov and his wife allegedly are not allowed to work in Turkmenistan.

Furthermore the family complains that psychological pressure is being raised by constant observation of their house, by police following them wherever they go, by people from the Ministry of National Security threatening visitors who want to contact the family, stopping them outside the house and warning them against troubles if they should go there.

Kyarizov’s wife faces a criminal case for the “seizure of the territory” of their stud farm. Insiders report that the procurator threatened her with prison if she refused to sign the papers and if she passed on anything about the case to international friends and the press.

Despite all this neither Kyarisov, nor his wife, daughter and sister in law are allowed to leave the country.

Apparently in the years since Kyarizov was released, he’s faced repeated harassment from the government but his case has lost the urgency his imprisonment had brought to the cause. Dr. Rautner says she and her close associates were able to speak with Kyarizov’s family and friends in Moscow and in Turkmenistan to assemble this report. How you choose to judge the information is up to you.

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This post was written by...

– author of 1848 posts on 17_PersonNotFound.

Joshua Foust is a Fellow at the American Security Project and the author of Afghanistan Journal: Selections from Registan.net. His research focuses primarily on Central and South Asia. Joshua is a correspondent for The Atlantic and a columnist for PBS Need to Know. Joshua appears regularly on the BBC World News, Aljazeera, and international public radio. Joshua's writing has appeared in the Columbia Journalism Review, Foreign Policy’s AfPak Channel, the New York Times, Reuters, and the Christian Science Monitor. Follow him on twitter: @joshuafoust

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{ 1 comment }

Gitti Dunham February 10, 2012 at 2:03 pm

Did you know that Kyarizov is currently seriously ill and in need of urgent medical attention which is not available in Turkmenistan? He and his family are prevented from seeking medical attention outside the country due to a travel ban which forbids them to leave the country? It is reported that his life may be at risk. Any suggestions on how we can arouse interest in his case?

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