The Observatory has been informed about the arbitrary arrest, subsequent release and ongoing judicial harassment of investigative journalist Bolot Temirov and Bolot Nazarov, musician, poet and human rights defender. Mr. Temirov is the founder of Temirov Live, a Youtube programme in which he reports on cases of state corruption. Mr. Nazarov regularly supports Temirov Live’s investigative work and publishes songs about these investigations on his own social media channels.
On January 22, 2022, the police arrested Bolot Temirov and Bolot Nazarov under alleged drug charges. That evening, a group of narcotics police officers raided the office of Temirov Live in the city of Bishkek. The law enforcement officers forced male staff members of Temirov Live to the ground, and, according to the journalist and his team, put a bag of drugs into his pocket. Moreover, during the raid, police officers seized equipment that contained journalistic investigations. Bolot Temirov was arbitrarily arrested and forcefully sent to a drug testing facility, which did not reveal the presence of any narcotic substances. The same day, law enforcement detained Bolot Nazarov outside the office of Temirov Live and found him in alleged possession of hashish. Mr. Nazarov claims the evidence was planted by the authorities. Mr. Temirov and Mr. Nazarov were subsequently taken to the Bishkek police department, where they were questioned in the presence of their lawyers.
On January 23, 2022, Mr. Temirov and Mr. Nazarov appeared before the Bishkek District Court. Bolot Temirov was charged with “illegal making, acquisition, storage, transportation, or sending of narcotic drugs or psychotropic substances without the purpose of sale” (Part 1 of article 283 of the Kyrgyzstan Penal Code) and Bolot Nazarov with “inducement to use narcotic drugs or psychotropic substances” (Article 287 of the Kyrgyzstan Penal Code). The Court ordered the release on bail of Bolot Temirov with instruction not to leave the city. Bolot Nazarov was placed under house arrest pending investigation. If convicted and sentenced, Mr. Temirov faces a fine of up to 200,000 Kyrgyz Soms (1,900 Euros approximately) or imprisonment for up to five years, while Mr. Nazarov faces a fine that could amount to 200,000 Kyrgyz Soms and imprisonment for three to five years.
The Observatory underlines that the arbitrary detention and judicial harassment of Bolot Temirov and Bolot Nazarov seem to be in retaliation for publishing, two days before their arrest, an investigation about – and writing a song criticising – the family of Kamchybek Tashiev, the head of the State Committee for National Security, for their alleged involvement in a corruption case.
On January 23, 2022, Temirov Live announced that in December 2021 they had been under close surveillance and that staff members had been subject to repeated threats and blackmail by unknown individuals.
The Observatory underlines that since President Sadyr Japarov came into power, in October 2020, despite repeated statements from the authorities on the importance of the preservation of freedom of speech and its invaluable role in combatting corruption, the climate for freedom of expression in Kyrgyzstan has been deteriorating and has created fear among human rights groups and defenders.
The Observatory strongly condemns the ongoing judicial harassment of Bolot Temirov and Bolot Nazarov, which seems to be merely aimed at silencing and punishing them for exercising their right to freedom of expression, and urges the authorities to put an immediate end to all forms of harassment, including at the judicial level, against them.
The Observatory urges the Kyrgyz authorities to carry out an immediate and thorough investigation into the above-mentioned acts of surveillance as well as into the alleged use of forged evidence against Bolot Temirov and Bolot Nazarov.
How You Can Help
Please write to the authorities of Kyrgyzstan asking them to:
- Guarantee in all circumstances the physical integrity and the psychological well-being of Bolot Temirov, Bolot Nazarov, all the members of Temirov Live and all other human rights defenders in Kyrgyzstan;
- Put an end to all forms of harassment, including at the judicial level, against Bolot Temirov and Bolot Nazarov, the other members of Temirov Live, and all human rights defenders in Kyrgyzstan;
- Carry out a transparent, impartial, immediate and thorough investigation into the acts of surveillance against and alleged planting of drugs on Bolot Temirov and Bolot Nazarov, in order to identify all those responsible, bring them before an independent tribunal, sanction them as provided by the law and provide the victims with effective remedies;
- Ensure that human rights defenders and human rights organisations are able to carry out their legitimate activities without any hindrance and fear of reprisals.
- Mr. Ulan Niyazbekov, Minister of Internal Affairs, Kyrgyzstan, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org ;
- Mr. Ayaz Bayetov, Minister of Justice, Kyrgyzstan, Email: email@example.com ;
- Permanent Mission of Kyrgyzstan to the United Nations in Geneva, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org;
- Embassy of Kyrgyzstan in Brussels, Abdijstraat 47 1050 Brussels, Belgium, Email: email@example.com ;
- Mr. Albert Kolopov, Kyrgyz Republic Akyikatchy (Ombudsman), Email: firstname.lastname@example.org;
- Mr. Eduard Auer, Head of EU Delegation to the Kyrgyz Republic, Eduard.AUER@eeas.europa.eu;
- Human Rights Focal Point, Liaison Officer for human rights defenders of the EU Delegation to the Kyrgyz Republic, Email: DELEGATION-KYRGYZSTAN-HUMAN-RIGHTS-DEFENDERS@eeas.europa.eu
- Mrs. Charlotte Adriaen, Head of Cooperation of the EU Delegation to the Kyrgyz Republic, Email: charlotte.ADRIAEN@eeas.europa.eu.
Please also write to diplomatic representations of Kyrgyzstan in your respective countries.