Massimov’s Case: Karim Massimov Was Arrested because He Refused Order to “Shoot to Kill Without Warning”
Dr. Karim Massimov was detained on January 5, 2022, following the meeting of the Security Council, because he refused President Tokayev’s “shoot to kill without warning” order.
In May 2023, an official of the National Security Committee additionally confirmed that Karim Massimov did not give an order for officers to abandon their posts during the protests. This has previously been used by the General Prosecutor of Kazakhstan, as grounds for the charge of “abuse of power in office” against Massimov.
The investigation against Karim Massimov is not related to the events of Bloody January. As has been previously alleged by the National Security Committee and other sources, the General Prosecutor’s office investigated the mass protests that swept the country at the beginning of 2022.
Nonetheless, the Government of Kazakhstan continues to name Massimov the “main organizer of January events.”
The General Prosecutor of Kazakhstan must act urgently to release Karim Massimov from detention and overturn his “top secret” conviction.
On May 12, 2023, the United Nations Committee Against Torture published its final periodic report on Kazakhstan. The Committee paid particular attention to the human rights violations following the events of Bloody January, stating that it “is deeply concerned about many consistent reports indicating various forms of torture, ill-treatment, (…) that occurred in the context of the January 2022 protests. (…)
The Committee urges the State party to ensure that all acts of torture and ill-treatment, including excessive use of force, occurred during the January 2022 events are promptly investigated in an independent and impartial manner and that the suspected perpetrators are duly tried and, if found guilty, punished in a manner commensurate with the gravity of their acts.
The State party should further ensure that burden of proof that torture or ill-treatment had been committed lies with the public authorities rather than the victims, under all circumstances and in all investigations of acts of torture and ill-treatment.
The State party is also invited to consider assistance from international experts in investigating the cases of torture and ill-treatment in line with international standards.”
Dr. Karim Massimov has been arbitrarily detained and wrongfully held in solitary confinement since January 5, 2022. On April 24, 2023, Massimov was convicted to serve an 18 year sentence in prison, despite suffering from medical conditions that put him at high risk of death in detention.
The Government of Kazakhstan must release Massimov on humanitarian grounds and investigate those responsible for his arbitrary detention and ill-treatment.
On April 24, the judge of the Specialized Interdistrict City Court of Astana announced a formal conviction of Dr. Karim Massimov on the charges of treason, attempted seizure of power, and abuse of power in office, with a sentence of 18 years.
The wrongful detention and conviction of Karim Massimov on trumped up charges signal that the Government of Kazakhstan is not earnestly pursuing a course of democratization and transparency, and the international standards that Kazakhstan has an obligation to uphold. Instead, the Government continues an autocratic approach to denying local and international rule of law and the Universal Declaration on Human Rights.
Massimov has been held in solitary confinement since January 5, 2022. For the first three months of detention, he was held incommunicado in prison. The entire investigation and trial against him have been held behind the cloak of secrecy, categorising the trial as “top secret.” Throughout his detention, he has been consistently denied adequate medical care, which has led to his health deteriorating significantly.
As the chosen scapegoat for the events of Bloody January, Dr. Massimov is considered the highest-profile political prisoner in Kazakhstan. During the investigation in March 2022, the General Prosecutor of Kazakhstan Berik Asylov announced that Massimov will receive a sentence of 17 years in prison. During the trial process in January 2023, the General Prosecutor named Karim Massimov the “main organizer” of January events. Both statements point to the political nature persecution against Karim.
Karim Massimov has been consistently denied his human rights, including the presumption of his innocence.
The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention has called on the Government of Kazakhstan to immediately release Karim Massimov, compensate him, and investigate those responsible for his arbitrary detention. In violation of this UN decision, Karim has been wrongfully detained in solitary confinement for over 15 months.
European Union, the United States, UK, Switzerland, and others have called on the Government of Kazakhstan to ensure an impartial and independent investigation into the January events of 2022, including an investigation into the human rights violations committed.
“Due to the lack of accountability for the January events and the human rights fallout of these events, Kazakhstan’s civic space rating was downgraded from ‘’obstructed’’ to ‘’repressed’’ on the CIVICUS Monitor in June 2022. This rating is typically given to countries where civic space is heavily contested by power holders who impose a combination of legal and practical constraints on the full enjoyment of fundamental rights.”
“The law does not provide for an independent judiciary, and both the executive and judicial branches limit judicial independence in practice. Freedom House’s Nations in Transit 2022 report noted that while the constitution provides for judicial independence, courts had yet to prove this independence in cases involving high-profile officials, political activists, and independent NGOs.”
The unjustified trial against Massimov shows him as a convenient scapegoat for Bloody January. Nonetheless, President Tokayev has still not communicated a justification for calling in Russian troops under the CSTO banner, nor his order to “shoot to kill without warning” on January 7, 2022, which resulted in the deaths of over 230 people.
The Government of Kazakhstan should release Massimov from detention immediately. His release is all the more important now, given the severity of his health condition.
For more information, see KarimMassimov.com.
On April 4, Karim Massimov’s physician at Johns Hopkins, Dr. Ernest Brown, issued a medical testimony, relaying the high risk Massimov will face early death due to his continued wrongful detention.
Suffering from emergency surgery in January 2023 due to lack of medical care, in addition to progressive bilateral eye cataracts and severe chronic coronary artery disease, Karim’s “further detention will lead to his early death by heart attack or stroke.”
“If there is no intervention, his health will continue to decline and I fear he will soon succumb to this cruel and inhumane treatment. I am bound by my Hippocratic oath to report and admonish the abuse and neglect suffered by my patient.”
The Government of Kazakhstan must immediately release Karim Massimov from detention.
Massimov’s Case: Government of Kazakhstan Accountability to the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention
On October 25, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention called on the Government of Kazakhstan to:
- Immediately and imminently release Karim Massimov from detention;
- Afford Massimov an enforceable right to compensation and other reparations; and
- Ensure a full and independent investigation of the circumstances surrounding the arbitrary deprivation of liberty of Mr. Massimov and to take appropriate measures against those responsible for the violation of his rights.
In November 2022, in response to the decision of the Working Group, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan noted that “An important point is the openness of our side to the discussion of the issues raised without excessive politicization and with concrete facts.”
Dr. Massimov remains in solitary confinement and the “top secret” trial against him is ongoing. The Government of Kazakhstan has thus far failed to implement the decision of the Working Group and release Massimov.
They must present a response to the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention within 21 days by April 25, 2023.
Dr. Ernest Brown, Johns Hopkins, has issued a medical testimony on behalf of Karim Massimov.
Massimov’s pre-existing diagnoses, including atherosclerosis, require him to receive immediate intensive medical care, as it puts him at risk of a fatal cardiopulmonary event.
Karim Massimov was also scheduled to receive urgent bilateral eye surgery in January 2022 to prevent long-term vision loss. However, his wrongful detention in solitary confinement and lack of adequate medical care has exacerbated his health concerns.
The Government of Kazakhstan should provide Karim Massimov an urgent humanitarian release, as he faces a fatal outcome in detention.
On Monday, January 30, Dr. Karim Massimov collapsed during the proceedings in the City Court of Astana. He was rushed to the hospital by ambulance and underwent emergency surgery.
Massimov’s health conditions should guarantee him a release on medical grounds, under Kazakhstani law.
Despite multiple international appeals for a humanitarian release and a decision in his favor for his immediate release by the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, Massimov’s solitary confinement in prison for over a year has, troublingly but not surprisingly, led to him collapsing and requiring surgery on January 30.
On Monday, February 6, Dr. Massimov was returned to prison, where there is no adequate medical care, while still suffering from a post-surgery infection.
Former Prime Minister of Kazakhstan, Dr. Karim Massimov, pleaded not guilty on all accounts in court.
The politically-motivated trial against Massimov, shrouded under national security secrecy, has been ongoing since November 18, 2022 at the City Court of Astana.
Dr. Massimov has been held in solitary confinement for over a year since January 5, 2022, despite multiple international calls for his immediate and imminent release on humanitarian grounds.
On January 5, 2023, the General Prosecutor of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Berik Asylov, broke Article 11 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 14 paragraph 2 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, by naming former Prime Minister, Dr. Karim Massimov as the main organizer of the Bloody January events at an address to Parliament, before a court decision has been reached.
The trial against Dr. Massimov is currently underway at the City Court of Astana, in violation of the opinion adopted by the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, which called for Massimov’s immediate release.
Karim Massimov, suffering from severe chronic coronary artery disease, has remained in solitary confinement for 1 year.
Dr. Massimov was detained at 11pm on January 5, directly following the meeting of the Security Council, headed by Tokayev, at the Akorda – the Astana Presidential Palace. He was held hostage, without access to food, water, medication, or defense, in the basement of the Presidential Palace until he was formally charged and brought to the temporary detention facility at 2pm on January 6, 2022. Once transferred, Massimov was denied medical care when experiencing a hypertensive crisis.
The Government of Kazakhstan continues to reject international calls for an independent investigation into the events of Bloody January.
On November 22, Philippe Dam, Human Rights Watch Advocacy Director for Europe and Central Asia raised the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention in calling for the immediate release of Karim Massimov.
Kazakhstan International Bureau for Human Rights and Rule of Law Call for Transparent Investigation and Open Trial for Karim Massimov
The Kazakhstan International Bureau for Human Rights and Rule of Law issued a statement on the case of arbitrarily detained Karim Massimov.
In response to the decision of the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, the Bureau states that the opinion “indicates gross violations of international fair trial standards.”
The Bureau calls “on the authorities to ensure maximum openness of court proceedings against these persons, as well as all proceedings on “January events,” in compliance with international obligations of the Republic of Kazakhstan with regard to guarantees of right to protection, independence and impartiality of the court and ensuring equality and adversarial of the parties.
We also recall that according to article 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (On the Right to a Fair Trial), ratified by the Republic of Kazakhstan, which is part of national law and has priority over the criminal procedure legislation of the Republic of Kazakhstan, the courts have the right to prevent the entire public or part of it for reasons of morality, public order (ordre public). In the absence of such exceptional circumstances, the proceedings should be open to the general public, including representatives of the media, and should not, for example, be limited to a certain category of persons.
Even when the public is denied access to trial, a court order, including basic conclusions, evidence and legal reasoning, should be made public (…) International guarantees of the right to a fair trial concern all accused (defendants) in all cases, in connection with which we call on the authorities of Kazakhstan to strictly comply with their international obligations in this area.”
On November 18, the ‘trial’ against arbitrarily detained Karim Massimov began at the City Court of Astana.
Despite international calls for his release and the decision adopted by the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, the Government of Kazakhstan began this politically motivated ‘trial.’
No information has yet been made public, as the case is proceeding behind ‘national security’ secrecy.
Central Asia watchers are monitoring the ‘trial’ against Massimov, as an example of Kazakhstan’s lack of commitment to international rule of law and due process.
During an official visit to Astana, Kazakhstan on November 17, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell met with representatives of civil society and human rights activists ahead of his meeting with Kazakhstan President Tokayev.
As reported by the Deputy Director of the Kazakhstan International Bureau for Human Rights, Borrell paid special attention to the case of the arbitrarily detained Karim Massimov. The latter was detained on January 5, 2022, alongside 10,000 others.
In a press conference at the conclusion of his visit, Borrell continued to call on Kazakhstan to conduct an independent and transparent investigation into the tragic events of January this year. In order for Kazakhstan to turn the page, there must be justice and accountability.”
International calls for the immediate and unconditional release of Karim Massimov continue. The Government of Kazakhstan must enact the decision of the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention and others by releasing Massimov, to demonstrate adherence to international rule of law and the defense of human rights. Alternatively, the EU and others will have to reassess their investment and trade relationships in Kazakhstan.
On November 1, Human Rights Watch’s Senior Central Asia Researcher, Mihra Rittmann, and director of the Europe & Central Asia division, Hugh Williamson, reported on Karim Massimov’s arbitrary detention, reiterating the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention’s unequivocal call for Massimov’s immediate and unconditional release.
No Peace Without Justice joins call for the immediate and unconditional release of Karim Massimov and all other prisoners arbitrarily detained.
Following the mass protests which swept the country in January, thousands of peaceful demonstrators were detained, as well as prominent officials such as Karim Massimov, former Chief of the National Security Committee (KNB) and two-time Prime Minister.
Massimov, along with many hundreds of demonstrators, remains in prison, held on uncorroborated and clearly politically motivated charges, raising strong concerns about serious breaches of international norms related to due and fair judicial procedures, independence of the judiciary and the rule of law.
On 28 October, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention issued an opinion adopted in early September determining that Massimov had been arbitrarily deprived of liberty and urging for its immediate and unconditional release. NPWJ calls on the authorities of Kazakhstan to enact this opinion as well as to release all other individuals prosecuted and detained on arbitrary grounds.
As called for by the European Parliament, they should also ensure impartial and transparent investigation into the alleged widespread human rights violations (including the excessive use of force, arbitrary detentions, torture and ill-treatment, due process violations and other abuses) that occurred during and in response to the January events and hold accountableall those responsible. Impunity is not an option in the path towards democracy, the rule of law and the respect of individual freedoms and human rights.
Fight Impunity, founded by former Members of the European Parliament, “is built on the necessity to promote the fight against impunity for serious violations of human rights and crimes against humanity having the principle of accountability as a central pillar of the architecture of international justice.”
Fight Impunity calls on the Government of Kazakhstan to release Karim Massimov, held in arbitrary detention since January 5, 2022.
“@UNHumanRights has called for former KZ PM Karim Massimov to be released immediately. The international community is looking for Kazakhstan to demonstrate its commitment to the international rule of law #FreeKarimMassimov”
Kazakhstan’s General Prosecutor’s Office announced that it approved the indictment against Massimov and sent the case to the Specialized Interdistrict Criminal Court of Astana for consideration.
This action is in direct non-compliance with the opinion of the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, who have called for Massimov’s immediate and unconditional release.
Karim Massimov, who suffers from severe chronic coronary artery disease, should also be granted immediate release on humanitarian grounds under Kazakhstani law.
If the authorities of Kazakhstan choose to go to trial, they are rejecting the decision of the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention. President Tokayev spoke of the importance he places in such institutions at the 77th UN General Assembly in September 2022, stating that “Kazakhstan is ready to cooperate with all relevant actors (in the UN) in a spirit of inclusiveness, multilateralism and goodwill.”
In the case that Kazakhstan moves forward with the “top secret” trial against Massimov, I call on transparency and openness to international observation.
The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention “called on the Government of Kazakhstan to take urgent action to ensure the immediate unconditional release of Mr. Karim Massimov.
The deprivation of liberty of Mr. Karim Massimov, being in contravention of articles 3, 9, 10 and 11 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and articles 9 and 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, is arbitrary and falls within categories I and III.
The Working Group considers that, taking into account all the circumstances of the case, the appropriate remedy would be to release Mr. Massimov immediately and accord him an enforceable right to compensation and other reparations, in accordance with international law.
The Working Group urges the Government to ensure a full and independent investigation of the circumstances surrounding the arbitrary deprivation of liberty of Mr. Massimov and to take appropriate measures against those responsible for the violation of his rights.”
President Tokayev worked in Geneva for the United Nations and in his speech at the 77th UN General Asssembly last month, stated that “Kazakhstan is ready to cooperate with all relevant actors (in the UN) in a spirit of inclusiveness, multilateralism and goodwill.”
On August 25, the National Security Committee of Kazakhstan published a press release, stating that the formal “investigation” into the alleged case against Dr. Karim Massimov has concluded and that his detention has been prolonged until October 6 for a period of case familiarization.
Dr. Massimov suffers from a severe diagnosis that should grant him house arrest during the pre-trial phase, which has not been granted in the last 8 months of his arbitrary detention, despite international calls.
The numerous documented violations of Karim’s rights during the investigation should be considered as grounds for the immediate cessation of the case against him.
Karim Massimov has been arbitrarily detained since January 5, 2022. The latest official announcement stated that his detention was prolonged until July 6, 2022.
As of July 18, no public information is available on the extension of Karim Massimov’s detention.
For over 6 months, Massimov has been held arbitrarily in a remand prison in solitary confinement, while his health condition continues to deteriorate.
Massimov case: the purpose of this article is to reveal the problem of Kazakhstan compliance with norms and strict adherence to the letter of the law. On June 5, Kazakhstan held a referendum in which citizens of the country voted for the adoption of the New Constitution, the main purpose of which is to give a historic start to New Kazakhstan, the Second Republic, as well as to mark the end of the Nazarbayev era, leaving behind a system that is mired in widespread corruption.
Did the second President of Kazakhstan do it? In general, yes. The goal has been achieved. 77% with a turnout of 68% voted for New Kazakhstan. But if you look at the figures regarding the electorate, it is more than half (52%), which actually reflects that Kazakhstani society has not yet consolidated around the second President and remains divided.
The main reason for this is the lack of a single official narrative on the January events for more than 6 months, the lack of transparent investigation, accompanied by murders, torture, arbitrary detentions of participants in January protests. To the international reaction about these events, the response of the official authorities of Kazakhstan – reforms of the judicial and the law enforcement system, there will be new market and equal rules of the game for participants in the economy, new rules of political and open competition in Parliament, for the implementation of which a new stage of rulemaking is being launched. Is it really true that it is necessary to wait for changes and that the current system does not allow transparent justice to be upheld?
If we analyze Kazakhstan’s criminal legislation, with the exception of some individual points, it complies with the principles of human rights protection and the administration of justice on the principles of equality of all before the law and equality of both defense and prosecution. Moreover, in Kazakhstan, the principles of the presumption of innocence, the supremacy of the Constitutional Rights of citizens are put above criminal legislation, while prohibiting any actions aimed at humiliating the honor and pleading dignity of a person who participates in criminal proceedings. It is also prohibited to use any evidence obtained through torture, deception, threats and intimidation as evidence of guilt.
Compliance with these principles would be enough to stop all criminal cases against many innocent victims of law enforcement agencies of citizens of Kazakhstan. If the reality of Kazakhstan was strictly implemented by the letter of the law, then for violation of the same principles, the judicial system of any other democratic country would declare all these criminal cases invalid and illegal.
As already recorded by international human rights organizations, the Qantar2022 group – there are arbitrary detentions, people under torture, threats for confessions.
Even with regard to Karim Massimov and the deputy chairmans of the KNB, despite the attention of the UN working group on arbitrary detentions, disregard of the rule of law is present, disrupting the unshakable principles of criminal investigation. Due to the secrecy of the case, it is still unclear why Massimov is charged under the articles of treason with clarification about the transition to the side of the enemy in armed time and why is the charge being built on an attempted state seizure with clarification in order to obtain personal gain? Are these accusations related to the January events?
In January, after 6 months, there is still no single official version of events: therefore, there is a lot of conspiracy and assumptions. Unfortunately, which version of the January events worked and their connection with Massimov is unlikely to be available to publicly. At the same time, in March this year, information directly related to the investigation was published on social networks. In particular, photos of money and residences were published, which are allegedly evidence of an economic offense. On March 14, the Prosecutor General announced that Massimov would be charged with 17 years in prison, as if it had already been resolved.
This whole situation proves that the problem of Kazakhstan is not in new laws, but in compliance with norms and strict adherence to the letter of the law. Until President Tokayev begins to correct the situation related to the victims of the January events, it will be very difficult to start the Second Republic.
June 6, 2022 marks 150 days that Dr. Karim Massimov has been arbitrarily detained in Kazakhstan, same as hundreds of political prisoners in the country following Bloody January.
Despite calls for an international, independent investigation into January events, there is a lack of publicly available information into the January events.
Dr. Massimov is held in a remand prison on politically-motivated charges. His court-sanctioned period of detention concluded on June 6.
Following David A. Merkel’s petition to the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detentions, Dr. Karim Massimov’s case will be considered during the Group’s 94th Session, which will take place in Geneva between 29 August and 2 September 2022.
Karim Massimov was detained on January 5th, following widespread unrest in the country. The UN Working Group petition was submitted with the support of Lord Pannick QC and Timothy Otty QC as legal counsel.
Dr. Massimov’s case serves as an example for all arbitrary detainees who have been criminally prosecuted, arrested, and detained following the events in January in Kazakhstan.
According to a May 11 press release of the National Security Committee (KNB), Dr. Karim Massimov’s detention in a remand prison has been prolonged until June 6, 2022.
The press release states that Dr. Massimov is “subject to pre-trial investigations into actions aimed at forcibly seizing power and abuse of office.”
On May 20, 2022 Human Rights Watch, called for an open, independent investigation into the January events:
“The Kazakhstan government has also failed to hold to account those responsible for serious human rights violations during the violence and unrest in January, when 200 people were killed and hundreds of people reportedly tortured during a series of protests. The government should immediately open an independent investigation, that includes international and national experts.”
Karim Massimov’s health condition, including severe chronic coronary artery disease, requires immediate independent medical attention.
Karim Massimov’s detention ended today, on May 6, 2022. Karim Massimov, former chairman of the National Security Committee, was imprisoned in a pre-trial detention center on the night of January 5-6, 2022, although it was publicly announced on January 8.
Massimov is held in the pre-trial detention center of the National Security Council, like any other detainee. According to official information, he has not complained about the conditions of detention, although an independent lawyer was never presented to him during these 4 months of imprisonment.
There is still no information on how the investigation is conducted. The authorities explain this by the fact that Massimov’s case is classified as a state secret.
Information about Karim Massimov’s state of health appeared in the press – he is seriously ill, he has been diagnosed with severe coronary heart disease, which progressed after covid.
Is Massimov’s detention extended? So far, there are no official statements on the part of the investigative authorities about this, nor is there any reaction to the deterioration of his health.
British Parliamentarians appealed to the President of Kazakhstan on the case of Karim Massimov.
Members of the British Parliament underscored the important role Massimov has played in the modernization of the Republic of Kazakhstan and recalled Massimov’s great work in building good relations between Kazakhstan and the West.
Parliamentarians called on Kassym-Zhomart Tokayev to “resolve Karim Massimov’s situation, respecting basic human rights in accordance with international human rights law.”
The Parliamentarians’ appeal was sent to the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan through the Embassy of the Republic of Kazakhstan.
Massimov’s case is closely followed by the democratic international community. The violations committed are recorded and analyzed by lawyers.
Contrary to article 10 of the Universal Declaration for Human Rights and article 13 of the Constitution of the Republic of Kazakhstan, which proclaim the right to fair counsel, Massimov has not been allowed to have impartial counsel.
His case is classified as «top secret», which paves the way for arbitrary detention and fabrication of accusations.
KarimMassimov.com, as well as independent media, will continue to inform further developments from the international community in support of Karim Massimov.
Growing international support for Karim Massimov gives additional hope to all political prisoners in Kazakhstan. There should be an authoritative international monitoring mission on human rights in Kazakhstan.
Karim Massimov suffers from multiple chronic diseases, including severe chronic coronary artery heart disease, which was diagnosed in the spring of 2021. His health diagnoses require an immediate release from detention on humanitarian grounds.
Karim Massimov’s doctors have confirmed, in writing, the need for Massimov’s immediate release on account of his severe chronic coronary artery heart disease, as well as other diseases, which pose a serious risk of fatality. The doctors are available to provide testimonials on this issue.
Appropriate documentation has been filed to the state accordingly. In addition, international bodies and foreign governments have been informed of this issue.
The detention of Karim Massimov in the pre-trial detention center in Nur-Sultan expired on April 6. Was his detention extended and on what basis? 90 days after Karim Massimov’s arbitrary detention, it is unclear whether his case has been extended by a designated court.
The public and close friends and family of Karim Massimov learned of the extension of his detention on March 24 in a KNB press release, almost a month after the secret court’s decision was made.
90 days after the detention of Karim Massimov, the public is paying attention to his case as a show trial of the arbitrary detention and detention of citizens after the January events.
86 days after Karim Massimov’s arbitrary detention, a lawyer of his choice was denied access to a “top secret” file.
The lawyer chosen has a local reputation for being the most experienced in known national security cases. However, two months after the lawyer filed an application for admission to the case, his admission was denied for unreasonable reasons. Massimov relies only on a state-appointed lawyer.
The only way for Massimov’s close friends and family to get information about his case is through KNB press releases in the media. According to the latest press release, Massimov’s detention was extended until April 6.
The Karim Massimov case sets a dangerous legal precedent where anyone can be arbitrarily detained and denied the right to a lawyer.
Almaty activists published a petition addressed to President Tokayev on the Change.org platform. Almaty was the most affected city in the tragic January events, affected by the illegal actions of the authorities (arbitrary detentions, arrests, torture, and murders). The persecution of citizens continues.
Civic activists ask Tokayev to take a wise step in order to avoid a split in society and a civil war. The authors of the petition ask Tokayev to announce a nationwide amnesty for all those who are persecuted in connection with the January events. By March 29, the petition had garnered 935 courageous supporting signatures across the country.
“Now is the time for everyone to unite, the time when we need to turn the page of the past and work together to save the country in the conditions of the war between Russia and Ukraine and the devastation that will follow with it!” the petition says.
As reported earlier, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention sent a request regarding the arbitrary detention of Karim Massimov to the Government of the Republic Kazakhstan via diplomatic channels. No later than June 6, 2022, the UN should receive an official and exhaustive response from the Government of the Republic of Kazakhstan.
Meanwhile, an international group of lawyers addressed the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, Nilz Melzer, on the “arbitrary detention of Karim Massimov and thousands of other citizens who have been subjected to systematic violations of human rights in Kazakhstan”. In particular, the appeal calls on the Special Rapporteur to visit Kazakhstan and conduct an independent investigation into mass human rights violations committed during the January protests, including “arbitrary detentions, torture and inhumane treatment”.
They further called for the UN Special Report into these abuses to include findings from ongoing independent investigations and to be prepared with the participation of public activists, experts and relatives of the victims.
The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention appeals to the Government of the Republic of Kazakhstan in defense of Karim Massimov
No later than June 6, the Government of Kazakhstan must respond to the accusation of arbitrary detention and human rights violations related to Mr. Massimov, in accordance with the charter of the UN Working Group (1).
For the first time following the illegal detention of Karim Massimov, a legal analysis of the accompanying circumstances is to be published. Violations of the law committed during the investigation continue to be recorded.
Responding to the requests of Kazakhstani human rights defenders and lawyers, we publish excerpts from the petition. We hope that the work of highly qualified lawyers will help to release not only Karim Massimov, but also all citizens of Kazakhstan who were subjected to illegal criminal prosecutions in connection with the events of January. While innocent people are behind bars, the January tragedy persists.
According to international norms and Kazakhstani legislation, all evidence presented by the prosecution is considered invalid if it is obtained in violation of the law. To be clear, we are talking about illegal detentions and arrests, non-admission of lawyers, torture, official forgery and secret courts classified as “Top Secret”.
Mr. Massimov, who was twice Prime Minister of Kazakhstan and a prominent politician, was arrested and detained by the security forces of Kazakhstan around January 5, 2022 amid large-scale political unrest in the country. For 72 days, he was held incommunicado without access to his family members, his chosen lawyer or doctor. His family knows nothing about the conditions in which he is held.
Within a few days after Mr. Massimov’s initial detention, the National Security Committee (2) issued a series of vague statements to the press confirming that Mr. Massimov was detained during the investigation on charges of committing “treason”, “attempt to seize power” and “abuse of power”.
On January 8, 2022, an unnamed and unidentified judicial body allegedly authorized the continued pre-trial detention of Mr. Massimov. The original ruling and its reasons were not made public. The date of his trial has not yet been set.
The arbitrary nature of Mr. Massimov’s imprisonment is obvious due to the lack of any legal grounds for his arrest and detention, as well as gross violations of due process that have characterized the trial against him so far.
The arrest and detention of Mr. Massimov are part of the larger suppression of political opponents in Kazakhstan. Faced with large-scale unrest, the authorities went to detain thousands of people whose guilt has not been established (3). By initiating an unfounded criminal trial against Mr. Massimov, detaining him before trial, the authorities use the charges against Mr. Massimov as a pretext to suppress any political threat he may pose. The only possible conclusion is that the arrest and detention of Mr. Massimov are politically motivated.
Mr. Massimov’s case meets the criteria of the Working Group regarding arbitrary detention (4) under categories I and III of the Working Group’s methods of work: (1) Kazakhstan cannot specify any legal basis, arrest and detention of Mr. Massimov (category I violation); and (2) non-compliance with international fair trial standards is so serious that it makes imprisonment arbitrary (category III violation).
Given all the circumstances, the available information constitutes a “sufficiently reliable” argument that Mr. Massimov was arbitrarily deprived of his liberty and that the continuation of such deprivation of liberty poses a serious threat to his health, physical or psychological integrity and/or his life.
The UN Working Group adopted the relevant petition and, taking into account the serious issues raised therein, applied its urgent action procedure so that the petition could be considered urgently to ensure respect for Mr. Massimov’s right to life and to physical and mental integrity.
1. Resolutions 1997/50, 2000/36 and 2003/31 were adopted by the UN Commission on Human Rights to extend the mandate of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention. The Human Rights Council, which “acquired … all mandates, mechanisms, functions and responsibilities of the Commission on Human Rights.” in accordance with UN General Assembly Resolution 60/251, General Assembly Resolution 60/251, §6 (15 March 2006), extended its mandate through Resolutions 6/4, 15/18, 20/16, 24/7, 33/30 and 42/22
2. National Security Committee, Press Statement, January 8, 2022: https://www.gov.kz/memleket/entities/knb/press/news/details/309530? Lang=kk; Security Committee, Press Statement, January 13, 2022: https://www. gov.kz/memleket/entities/ knb/press/news/details/311845? Lang=kk
3. Human Rights Watch, “Kazakhstan: Arbitrary arrests and beatings of protesters”, February 1, 2022: https://www.hrw.org/news/2022/02/01/kazakhstan-protesters-arbitrally-arrested- beaten; Amnesty International, “Kazakhstan: The authorities must release arbitrarily detained protesters and respect human rights in the context of ongoing riots”, January 12, 2022: https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2022/01/kazakhstan- authorities-must-release- arbitrarily-detained-protestors-and-respect-human-rights-amid-ongoingay- unrest; The protest, “The President of Kazakhstan said that he issued an order “open fire to kill”, January 7, 2022-kaas.the-de-de-dor-de-
4. UN General Assembly, Working methods of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, A/HRC/33/66, July 12, 2016, §8
On March 14 in the Majilis, the Prosecutor General reported on the progress of the investigation into the January events. The prosecutor’s report did not clarify many of the issues of concern raised by the population.
On February 10, Tokayev affirmed that foreign militants played a key role in the riots: “It was a carefully prepared operation of international terrorists, bandits who attacked Kazakhstan in order to, first of all, undermine the constitutional order and, of course, commit a coup d’état” (Source: Kremlin.ru). Putin, for his part, supported this version: “Kazakhstan has become, without any exaggeration, a victim of some international gangs that took advantage of the difficult situation within the country. But nevertheless, the situation has been restored… Russia, as one of the CSTO countries, in accordance with Article 4 of the treaty, offered Kazakhstan help” (Source: Kremlin.ru). Moreover, the version was supported by a statement of the head of the Foreign Intelligence, Sergei Naryshkin, that Russia informed the countries of Central Asia about “the threat of a potential terrorist attack from Syrian militants, ISIS in particular”. Naryshkin said that the coordination of operations was carried out from abroad.
However, when asked by journalists about foreign terrorists on March 14, the Prosecutor General replied: “They were not there. Where did you get this information from?”. The public is bewildered. Why does the Prosecutor General’s version contradict that of the President? The country’s top leadership does not have a coherent version of the events. What credibility can the investigation have if there is confusion on even basic facts? Perhaps the investigation into the January events is being used to settle accounts by politically undesirable representatives of the Kazakhstan elite.
In addition, the CSTO’s participation remains unclear. “There are around 300 thousand armed forces in Kazakhstan” as was declared by the Member of the Majilis, Azamat Abildayev, who asked of the Prosecutor General: “Why was the authority waiting for 2,000 CSTO peacekeepers to arrive, when there were plenty of local forces?” Moreover, as the Prosecutor General stated, the CSTO forces not participate in the anti-terrorist operation. Geopolitics enters the scene. It sets a dangerous precedent foreign troops participating to resolve issues within Kazakhstan. This precedent could later be used for wider interference in the internal affairs of the country. Pandora’s box is open.
Another cause for bewilderment is the introduction of an anti-terrorist regime throughout Kazakhstan, which was in force until January 19, by a decision of the Supreme Commander-in-Chief. 70 days after the events, no terrorists, alive or dead, were presented to the public. The head of the Special Prosecutor’s service answered the journalist’s question that “there are no ongoing cases on terrorism”.
The most pressing issue of concern to the public is the torture of detainees following the January events. So far, officials have admitted that eight people died from torture during detention. The National Security Committee has once again been blamed, when it is well known that the Ministry of Internal Defence carried out arrests and detentions in this investigation. The issue requires an independent investigation involving lawyers, human rights defenders, and relatives of the detained.
The report of the Prosecutor General held in the Majilis leaves the public with more questions than answers. There is no clear position on key issues of the investigation. All that is left is guesswork. There is a possible desire to hide the true picture of what happened. That is why open investigations are imperative. There was not even an answer to a direct question about who was the main culprit of the events.
This assessment was conducted by independent analysts. Next chapter coming soon. For more information, view Case Background.
As is known from official reports, Massimov was arrested on January 8 by court order. The detention order expired on March 8. At the moment, the public has not been informed about the extension of his arrest and detention. It is only known that Massimov is still in the pre-trial detention center of the National Security Council. There is no information about his legal status.
Was there an order to extend his arrest, or were there no such court proceedings? The public was not informed and remains in the dark. All information continues to be classified. Meanwhile, Karim Massimov continues to be held in custody illegally, and any semblance of due process to extend the arrest has been violated. This situation creates a dangerous precedent, where citizens of Kazakhstan can be arrested without legal basis, with cases heard in secret court proceedings that may or may not take place.
The UN Working Group has now accepted a petition for arbitrary detention in relation to this case. The international community considers Karim Massimov’s plight a further example of the rising persecution of political prisoners around the world.
The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention accepted a petition arguing that Massimov’s arrest and detention qualify as politically motivated and that he is being denied adequate legal protection.
The petition contains a request to the UN Working Group to send an urgent appeal to the Government of Kazakhstan, in accordance with UN Commission on Human Rights Resolution 1997/50, to recommend that Kazakhstan release Karim Massimov, and provide an opportunity for full protection in court, in accordance with paragraph 2 of Article 13 of the Constitution of Kazakhstan.
This question concerns not only Karim Massimo, but the fate of thousands of citizens persecuted and illegally detained in the aftermath of the January protests. The fact that the petition is being considered by the UN gives hope to all victims of illegal detentions.
The charge of attempted violent seizure of power (under Article 179, meaning changes to the constitutional order through use of media, with a maximum sentence of 17 years and revoked citizenship) is absurd. Karim Massimov could never be the beneficiary of a seizure of power. Under the Constitution, there are ineliminable obstacles to him becoming even an interim President.
If we assume that the purpose of the escalated protests in January was to force President Tokayev to resign, then the three following individuals would have been in line to become interim President:
- Head of the Senate – Maulen Ashymbayev, a close ally and protégé of Tokayev.
- (if first option refuses) Head of the Mazhilis – Nurlan Nigmatulin, a known close ally of First President Nazarbayev.
- (if the first two options refuse) Head of the Government – Askar Mamin, another close Nazarbayev ally without great political aspirations.
The position of Maulen Ashymbayev in the succession line is a very strong obstacle to any suggestion of the attempted removal of President Tokayev from power.
This assessment was conducted by independent analysts. Next chapter coming soon. For more information, view Case Background.