The Khrapunov Family in the Sights of the Kazakh Dictatorship
The legal authorities of Kazakhstan, controlled by the dictator Noursoultan Nazarbaïev, have compiled a dossier with the aim of accusing the Khrapunov family of money laundering and other crimes. According to Swiss law, Swiss authorities must respond to requests for international assistance, even when these originate in countries known for violating human rights. The Khrapunov family categorically rejects all accusations brought against them and denounces this politically motivated action. The family is disappointed by Switzerland’s participation in such a travesty of justice and invites Swiss authorities to proceed swiftly and impartially in order to allay the suspicions which the Kazakh regime has unjustly cast upon.
Geneva, November 30, 2012 – On November 27, 2012, Leila Khrapunova learned that the Swiss authorities had begun to act on a request for mutual assistance from Kazakhstan. Two days later, based on a leak which could only have originated from the Kazakh authorities, this information was picked up in an abridged, partial and biased form by the RTS Swiss radio and television network (at 7:30 pm on November 29, 2012). This leak reveals, once again, the eminently political dimensions of the dispute which places the Khrapunov family in conflict with the leadership of the State of Kazakhstan.
As a result of the decision to take action, Switzerland has agreed to take measures which appear to aim to clarify issues related to the origin of funds belonging to Leila Khrapunova or her son, as recipients of certain banking transactions. Leila Khrapunova is dismayed that Swiss authorities have become involved in these matters based on the claims of Kazakhstan, a country that has blood on its hands, tramples human rights, fabricates false documents for its own purposes as a matter of course, and which brutally condemns journalists (see Le Monde, November 26, 2012), union members (see Al Jazeera, June 5, 2012) and opponents to very harsh prison sentences.
Since 1990, Leila Khrapunova has actively participated in the transition of her country to a market economy, independently of the political activities of Viktor Khrapunov. She created numerous highly successful SMEs in Kazakhstan, notably in the domains of media, high-end fashion, luxury goods, and real estate. She claims that during her 15 years as the director of companies in Kazakhstan (1990-2005), she acquired no assets in an illicit manner. She forcefully denies having ever profited from any preferential treatment or favors from Viktor Khrapunov, whom she wed in a second marriage in 1998, and who was Mayor of Almaty, the country’s largest city, from 1997 to 2004.
Leila Khrapunova is ready to cooperate with Swiss authorities to chart the origin of her wealth in a spirit of total transparency. She even urges them to proceed as swiftly as possible to clear her of the suspicions which the Kazakh regime has unjustly cast upon her and members of her family.
In Kazakhstan, justice is neither free nor independent. Rather, it is at the mercy of the power that is entirely in the hands of President Noursoultan Nazarbaïev, who has run the country with an iron fist since 1989. All judges and prosecutors in Kazakhstan are directly appointed by him. All of the main international human rights organizations acknowledge that the Kazakh regime does not shy away from manipulation or violence to vanquish its opponents, including having them physically eliminated. Fabricating and falsifying documents for political reasons are common practices in Kazakhstan.
In this context, in Switzerland, judges, journalists and all those with a degree of critical thinking skill must be extremely cautious in examining the work of this regime. Leila Khrapunova is amazed by the complacent and unquestioning manner with which the French-speaking media, particularly the Swiss Francophone Television stations, broadcast the ideas presented by the Kazakh authorities without protest. In so doing, they’re playing into the hand of the dictator, Nazarbaïev, thus helping to sully the Khrapunov family’s image.
Though it is widely knows that Kazakhstan is not a democracy, the country maintains normal diplomatic and economic relations with the international community. The fact that Switzerland has temporarily complied with the Kazakh request does not signify in any way that it endorses Kazakhstan’s allegations, nor does it prejudice the final results of the examination of Kazakhstan’s request.
The jurisprudence of the Federal Tribunal has made it known that Switzerland is quite reticent to enter into deeper cooperation with the State of Kazakhstan on the subject of international mutual legal assistance, given the absence of independence of the judiciary powers and the serious gaps in procedural guarantees in that country. In any case, Leila Khrapunova will use all legal means to oppose the transmission of information about her to the judicial authorities of Kazakhstan. She will repudiate any action which may favor mutual assistance with a legal system that is at once unfair, totalitarian, and at the mercy of political power.
The Causes of Kazakh Harassment
Kazakhstan has compiled a dossier aimed at discrediting Viktor Khrapunov, one of its opponents, who has information proving the large-scale fraud and criminal activities committed by the governing regime. Viktor Khrapunov is an atypical Kazakh politician. During his years in politics in Kazakhstan, whether as minister or as mayor of the country’s largest city, he has remained intransigent when faced with those who would aim to corrupt him. Unlike the Nazarbaïev clan, who has been pillaging the country’s resources on a daily basis for over 20 years, the former mayor of Almaty has never personally profited from the positions he has held. He does not have and has never had foreign bank accounts. As such, the claims circulating in the media that his accounts in Geneva have been “frozen” are erroneous.
Viktor Khrapunov and his family feel harassed and even politically and physically threatened by the Kazakh regime. During the summer of 2011, they made a claim for political asylum in Switzerland. Eighteen months later, the request is still being processed.
For more information, see: www.viktor-khrapunov.com. Also read the long interview given to Politique internationale by Viktor Khrapunov in the latest issue, November 2012.
Human Rights in Kazakhstan
The Kazakh regime is a totalitarian police state, run by a dictator who wins elections with 95% of the vote, controls the media and represses any dissenting opinion. A merciless autocrat, elected President for life, he controls the executive, legislative and judicial branches of power. He directly appoints all regional governors and all mayors of large cities.
On December 16, 2011, a terrible massacre, carried out by the security forces, took place in Kazakhstan. According to the official data, 16 people were killed and more than a hundred were wounded when the police shot at civilians in the town of Janaozen in the western part of the country. Independent sources indicate that many more people were killed and hundreds were injured. This was the bloody conclusion of a seven-month-long fight against the regime by oil workers seeking better salaries and working conditions. Coverage of the events by Euronews can be seen on YouTube.
The massacre of Janaozen marked the beginning of an unprecedented new age of political oppression in Kazakhstan. The majority of strikers were sentenced to long-term imprisonment based on fabricated accusations, while civil-society activists and politicians who supported the workers continue to be tried. One of them, Vladimir Kozlov, a major opposition leader, was sentenced to seven-and-a-half years of prison and the confiscation of all his assets on October 8, 2012, after a trial that was denounced by international observers as completely fabricated.
The State authorities similarly targeted whatever remains of the small independent media in Kazakhstan. Journalists who denounce the massacre of Janaozen now face numerous allegations including conspiracy with the workers with the aim of overthrowing the governing regime. Conversely, the security forces which shot at the civilians have not been indicted. President Nazarbaïev refuses to consent to an international inquiry; the results of which he knows will bring to light the true colors of his regime.
Spokesman for the Khrapunov family
+41 79 128 34 95 , firstname.lastname@example.org