The easiest way to understand why and how politically motivated persecution of people in different countries is to tell the stories of these people. I will not give names and surnames in these stories, and sometimes information about countries. But all the circumstances of these cases are genuine.

At the beginning of November 2022, I sent an expert opinion to a lawyer in Kyrgyzstan. The lawyer defends a woman lawyer and human rights activist. This well-known person in the Kyrgyz Republic was arrested only because she was a member of a public committee. All other members of this committee, about three dozen people, were also detained pending trial. The question arises: what did these people do so terrible?

This story began with the demarcation of the border between Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. In Soviet times, borders did not matter much. They were defined very roughly. It was time to set precise boundaries, and problems arose. There is a large reservoir on the border between these countries. The Kyrgyz call it Kempir-Abad, the Uzbeks call it Andijan. When it was built in Soviet times in the interests of agriculture in Uzbekistan, the lands of Kyrgyzstan were flooded. After the collapse of the USSR, the dam and the power plant were controlled by Uzbekistan. And who owns the surface of the reservoir, did not matter much. During the demarcation, the authorities of the two countries agreed that the reservoir would also belong to Uzbekistan. The basis for this was the documents of the Soviet period on the transfer of part of the lands of Uzbekistan as compensation to Kyrgyzstan for the flooded territories.

Preparations began for the official fixing of the new border. The main problem was that the authorities decided to make this process secret. Committees of the Parliament of Kyrgyzstan considered the draft decision behind closed doors. The President of the Republic has publicly stated that he cannot disclose any details of the agreement.

Land in this region is of great value. She is sorely missed. Therefore, the secret nature of the preparation of the decision aroused indignation among the residents of the Kyrgyz regions adjacent to the reservoir. They held several rallies and meetings. At one of these meetings, a public committee for the protection of the Kempir-Abad reservoir was created. The members of the committee only had time to put their signatures under the decision to establish this committee. Soon they were arrested.

All the detainees were accused of preparing to commit a crime, namely, “organizing mass riots.” Wherein:

1. After the arrest, the investigators did not give the lawyers a decision to open a criminal case. Probably, the decision to arrest was made in a hurry. The resolution simply did not have time to make. Even two weeks after the arrest, there was still no decision. The only document of the investigation, which I examined in the preparation of the examination, was the decision to conduct a search “in case of urgency.”

2. The investigators did not provide any evidence that the members of the committee were preparing riots. Prior to their arrest, these people were engaged in exclusively peaceful activities.

3. The qualification of a crime as “preparation to commit” indicates that the crime was not committed. The charge of preparation requires particularly strong evidence, which was not provided.

4. After the arrest, no investigative actions were carried out with the detainees. There were no interrogations, confrontations and other actions. People were just in the cells of the pre-trial detention center.

What is the political motivation of the authorities in this case?

In the Guidelines for the definition of the concept of “political prisoner”, which is used by the human rights organization “Memorial” (the organization is the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2022), political motives for criminal prosecution are understood as actions or inactions of law enforcement and judicial bodies, other subjects of power powers that are unacceptable in a democratic society , aimed at achieving at least one of the following goals: a) consolidation or retention of power by subjects of power; b) involuntary termination or change in the nature of someone’s public activities.

This understanding of the political motivation of criminal prosecution is based on the Resolution of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe No. 1900 (2012). Kyrgyzstan is not a member of the Council of Europe, but is bound by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which also prohibits politically motivated persecution.

In our case, the obvious political motive is to stop the public activities of the members of the reservoir protection committee. They did it in the most rude way, they simply arrested these people. Obviously, the authorities of Kyrgyzstan were afraid of the continuation of their activities. The President of the Kyrgyz Republic stated in an interview that “They need to create a conflict at all costs, to divide the people. But we won’t let that happen. Using democracy, they overdo it.” The secret decision to transfer the reservoir could lead to a social explosion. Such events in Kyrgyzstan regularly, about once every ten years, end with a change of power. The incumbent president is well aware of how this happens. He himself came to power from the cell of the pre-trial detention center.

The presence of a political motive in the actions of the authorities had to be proved. For this, I used not only facts directly related to the criminal case, but also an analysis of the political context of the Kyrgyz Republic. It is not the first time that the authorities of this country have recently deprived people of their freedom for political reasons. For example, the international human rights organization Human Rights Watch made a statement in April of this year, in which it indicated that the authorities of Kyrgyzstan have stepped up the persecution of journalists and independent media. This conclusion is confirmed by several criminal investigations into the activities of the media and journalists in recent months.

This expert opinion was quite simple, because the motives of the authorities lay on the surface. In addition, the executors of the order to detain acted primitively. As a rule, politically motivated persecution is more sophisticated. Especially in cases where a person is accused of economic crimes.

The case of the Kyrgyz lawyer is not over. She and other people are still in custody. I hope to announce the completion of the case soon.

In the photo: Kempir-Abad