The Observatory has been informed about the incommunicado detention and subsequent deportation of investigative journalist Bolot Temirov from Kyrgyzstan to Russia. Mr Temirov is the founder of “Temirov Live”, a YouTube channel in which he reports on cases of state corruption. He holds both Kyrgyz and Russian citizenship.
On November 23, 2022, Mr Temirov was unlawfully expelled from Kyrgyzstan to Russia by plane after being held incommunicado for four hours at the Manas international airport, Bishkek. He did not have any valid travel documents with him when he was deported.
Earlier on the same day, a city court in Bishkek had upheld the conviction of Mr Temirov on fabricated charge of “document forgery” (Article 379 of the Criminal Code of Kyrgyzstan) and ordered his deportation. Police officers in plain clothes arbitrarily arrested and transferred him to the airport immediately after the ruling. Mr Temirov was denied access to his legal representative before being deported. His lawyer went to the airport but was misled by the authorities as they stated that Mr Temirov was not being held there.
The deportation was ordered on the basis of Article 70 of the Criminal Code of Kyrgyzstan, which applies to foreign citizens and stateless persons. However, Bolot Temirov is a Kyrgyz citizen, which makes his expulsion from Kyrgyzstan unlawful.
The Observatory recalls that on September 28, 2022, the Sverdlovsk District Court in Bishkek acquitted Mr Temirov from “illegal possession of drugs” and “illegal border crossing” (Articles (283.1 and Article 378.1 of the Criminal Code) but found him guilty of “document forgery” for allegedly using fake documents to obtain his Kyrgyz passport in 2008. However, the court decided not to no impose any punishment due to the expiration of the statute of limitations. Both Mr Temirov and the General Prosecutor’s Office appealed this ruling.
The Observatory further recalls that on January 22, 2022, the police raided the YouTube channel office in Bishkek, seized equipment that contained journalistic investigations, planted a bag of drugs into Mr Temirov’s pocket and arbitrarily arrested him. Mr Temirov was subsequently charged with “illegal possession of drugs”. He was released on bail the day after with instruction not to leave the city.
On April 20, 2022, the Bishkek city police presented new charges against Mr Temirov, including “illegal crossing of the state border”, and “forgery of documents”. A month later, on May 17, 2022, Mr Temirov’s Kyrgyz passport was recognised as void by the Ministry of Interior. At the time of publication of this Urgent Appeal, he did not possess a valid Kyrgyz passport.
The Observatory underlines that the illegal deportation and judicial harassment of Bolot Temirov seem to be in retaliation for the publication of an investigation on his channel about the alleged involvement of the family of Kamchybek Tashiev, the head of the State Committee for National Security, in a corruption case. Other team members of the channel “Temirov Live” are subject to threats, surveillance, smear campaigns and other forms of harassment.
The Observatory notes with concern 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 and assembly in Kyrgyzstan has been deteriorating and has created fear among human rights groups and defenders.
The Observatory strongly condemns the unlawful deportation, incommunicado detention and judicial harassment of Mr Temirov. The Observatory urges the authorities to overturn the decision of deporting Mr Temirov, to facilitate his return to Kyrgyzstan and put an immediate end to all forms of harassment, including at the judicial level, against him and all human rights defenders in Kyrgyzstan.
How You Can Help
Please write to the authorities of Kyrgyzstan asking them to:
i. Overturn the unlawful deportation of Bolot Temirov, as this decision is unlawful and was ordered and implemented without the respect to due process and represents a reprisal for his legitimate human rights work, and facilitate his legal return to Kyrgyzstan;
ii. Quash the sentence against Bolot Temirov and put an end to all forms of harassment, including at the judicial level, against him, the other members of “Temirov Live”, and all human rights defenders in Kyrgyzstan;
iii. Reissue a valid Kyrgyz passport to Bolot Temirov, as it was annulled as a reprisal for his legitimate human rights work;
iv. Ensure that human rights defenders and human rights organisations in Kyrgyzstan 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, Belgium, Email: email@example.com ;
• Ms. Atyr Abdrakhmatova, Kyrgyz Republic Akyikatchy (Ombudsman), Email: firstname.lastname@example.org;
• Ms. Marilyn Josefson, Head of the EU Delegation to the Kyrgyz Republic, Marilyn.email@example.com;
• Human Rights Focal Point, Liaison Officer for human rights defenders of the EU Delegation to the Kyrgyz Republic, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Please also write to diplomatic representations of Kyrgyzstan in your respective countries.