Kazakh businessman sentenced to 21 years for attempt to ‘overthrow government’

Toktar Toleshov (photo from the Fergana information agency)

ASTANA (TCA) — The Astana Military Court on November 7 sentenced Tokhtar Toleshov, a Kazakh businessman and the owner of Shymkent brewery, to 21 years in prison after he had been found guilty of extremism, illegal weapons possession, and attempting to overthrow the government, RFE/RL’s Kazakh Service reports.

Toleshov and his associates went on trial in September. His co-defenders received different prison terms, ranging from suspended imprisonment to seven years in penal colonies.

Toleshov was detained in January along with 24 other suspects, including the ex-deputy prosecutor-general and the former chief of the South Kazakhstan regional police.

In a separate case, Toleshov has been charged with financing mass protests against land reforms across the country, which the court had found illegal.

Kazakhstan’s National Security Service (KNB) said in June that Toleshov’s “plan included destabilizing the situation in the country by creating flash points, organizing protests and mass unrest.”

KNB said there were evidences that protests against the land reform that took place in several Kazakh cities had been masterminded and financed by Toleshov.  

Thousands protested across Kazakhstan in April and May against the government’s plans to privatize agricultural lands.

The Kazakh government set up the commission to review the land-reform plans, and invited some opposition figures to join it, after opposition activists called for rallies to be held across the country to protest proposed changes to the Land Code that would allow farmland to be sold and would allow foreign investors to lease land for agricultural use for up to 25 years.

President Nursultan Nazarbayev on May 5 ordered to postpone the implementation of the controversial legislation until 2017.

Sergey Kwan


Sergey Kwan has worked for The Times of Central Asia as a journalist, translator and editor since its foundation in March 1999. Prior to this, from 1996-1997, he worked as a translator at The Kyrgyzstan Chronicle, and from 1997-1999, as a translator at The Central Asian Post.
Kwan studied at the Bishkek Polytechnic Institute from 1990-1994, before completing his training in print journalism in Denmark.

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