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Uzbek illegally expelled from Russia sentenced to 11 years in Uzbekistan

Abdugani Kamaliyev (Tursinov), 49 and married to a Russian national, was expelled from Russia in December 2007. The Russian authorities are now distorting the facts to explain away why they did not comply with a directive from the European Court of Human Rights

Abdugani Kamaliyev (Tursinov), 49 and married to a Russian national, was expelled from Russia in December 2007.  The Russian authorities are now distorting the facts to explain away why they did not comply with a directive from the European Court of Human Rights.

On 6 March the Russian Civic Assistance Committee learned that Kamaliyev has been sentenced to 11 years. The Uzbek authorities had asked for his extradition on charges of encroaching upon the constitutional order, inciting racial, ethnic and religious enmity and creating, organizing or taking part in religious extremis or other prohibited organizations. These are the articles of the Criminal Code generally used against believers in Uzbekistan whom the authorities see as being too strict in their religious observance.

In December 2006 the Russian Prosecutor General turned down the application for Kamaliyev’s extradition.  Yet a year later, Kamaliyev was “expelled” despite the European Court of Human Rights having applied Rule 39, halting any expulsion pending review.

Efforts were made until absolutely the last minute to prevent Kamaliyev being expelled to Uzbekistan where he faced fabricated charges and torture ( see also the links below.)  It was clear to all those in any way involved that the problem was not in information not being received.  What was lacking was the will to stop an expulsion which infringed Russian legislation and flouted a directive from the European Court of Human Rights.

The Civic Assistance Committee has received information that in January 2008, Kamaliyev was subjected to torture in the SIZO [remand prison] in Namangana.

Yelena Ryabinina from the Committee who represents Kamaliyev’s interests in the application to the European Court has also received copies of the Russian government’s commentary on the case.

Russia’s Representative at the Court, Veronika Milinchuk asserts that the notification from 3 December calling for a halt on Kamaliyev’s expulsion arrived in her offices only 24 hours later, on 4 December around 22.30 Moscow time (2 hours ahead of Strasbourg).

It should be noted that Ms Ryabinina was informed by the Court on the morning of 4 December that the notification had been sent by fax to Russia’s Representative at the Court.  The time was indeed around 10 in the evening, however on 3 December.

Ms Milinchuk would appear to have become thoroughly bogged down in fabricated times. She states that the expulsion was on the same day at 22.20 Moscow time, i.e. 10 minutes before she claims the notification arrived. She goes on say that this only left 6 hours which was not sufficient to inform the officials in Tyumen. 

In fact …

The notification from Strasbourg of the application of Rule 39 halting expulsion was received 26 hours before Kamaliyev was expelled. The Court reminded Russia of the halt on any expulsion approximately 4 hours before the plane set off.

Throughout the day on 4 December officials in Tyumen received information about the European Court of Human Rights decision from Kamaliyev’s representative and staunchly chose not to believe it.

Nor did the management of the Ministry of Internal Affairs react to the copies of all relevant documents.

From around 23.00 Moscow time on 4 December, representatives of the Russian Federation Human Rights Ombudsperson’s Secretariat and the Civic Assistance Committee tried to talk to Vladimir Fyodorov, the person in charge from the Ministry of Internal Affairs in Tyumen and convince him that Kamaliyev must be taken off the flight to Tashkent.  Yet at 15 minutes past 12 Moscow time Fyodorov, quoting his bosses, stated that he would take no action. There can be no other explanation but that an order was received from higher up.

The plane set off 10 minutes later.

Ms Milinchuk also claims that Kamaliyev’s representative took two days to make the application after receiving authority from Kamaliyev.  Hardly the point, since Ms Milinchuk still had 26 hours to react, however this is also extremely feeble as an attempt to shift responsibility. The two days were Saturday and Sunday, not working days at the Court.

Ms Milinchuk also claims that Mr Kamaliyev did not inform the court in Tyumen that he was married to a Russian national.  Not true. The court was in possession of a document clearing showing that Mr Kamaliyev had married in 2000 and taken his wife’s name (hence the use of Tursinov, his original name, in brackets).  If the court could not be bothered to read the document, this can hardly be cited as justification for ignoring such a crucial argument against expulsion. The fact that the couple had no children together, which Ms Milinchuk tries to suggest explains the lack of concern for finding out about this aspect of the case, is equally immaterial.

It should be remembered here that the extradition request with respect to Mr Kamaliyev had been turned down.  The court passed an “administrative expulsion” order against a man who was married and living with his wife, this being a flagrant violation of the European Convention on Human Rights. (the right to family life, Article 8). 

Ms Milinchuk also argues that Mr Kamaliyev did not tell the court that the Prosecutor General had turned down the extradition request. One wonders why she even wrote that, not just because it is not true, and anyway, this was supposed to be an “administrative expulsion” not extradition, but also because it is quite simply no excuse.

As well as all the reasons why Kamaliyev should not have been separated from his wife, and sent to a country to face torture and totally fabricated charges, there was also a vital argument regarding Russia’s international commitments. The European Court of Human Rights’ application of Rule 39 is binding.  This is not the first time that the Russian Federation has flouted the Rule – it did so a year earlier by sending Rustam Muminov to Uzbekistan.

The excuses do not wash.

(Halya Coynash, based on information from Yelena Ryabinina, Civic Assistance Committee, Moscow)

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