• KGS/USD = 0.01134 0%
  • KZT/USD = 0.00225 0%
  • TJS/USD = 0.09234 0.22%
  • UZS/USD = 0.00008 0%
  • KGS/USD = 0.01134 0%
  • KZT/USD = 0.00225 0%
  • TJS/USD = 0.09234 0.22%
  • UZS/USD = 0.00008 0%
  • KGS/USD = 0.01134 0%
  • KZT/USD = 0.00225 0%
  • TJS/USD = 0.09234 0.22%
  • UZS/USD = 0.00008 0%
  • KGS/USD = 0.01134 0%
  • KZT/USD = 0.00225 0%
  • TJS/USD = 0.09234 0.22%
  • UZS/USD = 0.00008 0%
  • KGS/USD = 0.01134 0%
  • KZT/USD = 0.00225 0%
  • TJS/USD = 0.09234 0.22%
  • UZS/USD = 0.00008 0%
  • KGS/USD = 0.01134 0%
  • KZT/USD = 0.00225 0%
  • TJS/USD = 0.09234 0.22%
  • UZS/USD = 0.00008 0%
  • KGS/USD = 0.01134 0%
  • KZT/USD = 0.00225 0%
  • TJS/USD = 0.09234 0.22%
  • UZS/USD = 0.00008 0%
  • KGS/USD = 0.01134 0%
  • KZT/USD = 0.00225 0%
  • TJS/USD = 0.09234 0.22%
  • UZS/USD = 0.00008 0%

Viewing results 1 - 6 of 9

Kuandyk Bishimbayev Given 24 Years in Prison — But Kazakhs Ask How Long He Will Really Serve

On May 13, Kazakhstan’s former Minister of National Economy Kuandyk Bishimbayev was sentenced to 24 years in prison for the torture and murder of his common-law wife Saltanat Nukenova in November 2023. While the length of the sentence is a victory for advocates against gender-based violence, both within Kazakhstan and in the many parts of Europe where the trial was also followed closely, many Kazakhs feel that it is still too early to say that justice has been done. In an open discussion that is rare in Central Asia, many citizens are posting their concerns on social media that the Nazarbayev-era official will find a way to get out of prison early: there is already speculation that Bishimbayev, a former member of the country’s elite, will leverage his political connections to secure an early release – or be recognized as terminally ill. Attempting to quell these fears, state prosecutor Aizhan Aimaganova has said that under Kazakhstani law, Bishimbayev will be able to apply for parole only after serving 16 years, two-thirds of his sentence – and only then with the consent of Saltanat Nukenova’s family, guided by her brother, Aitbek Amangeldy. Saltanat Nukenova's murder has shown that civil society is very much alive in President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev’s Kazakhstan. As previously reported, shortly after her death in November last year, a public movement called Zhana Adamdar organized an authorized rally in Almaty to raise awareness about violence against women and children. Yesterday, on the day of the sentencing, supporters of another Kazakh feminist movement, Feminita, protested in Almaty, Kazakhstan's biggest city. The group is demanding life imprisonment for Saltanat Nukenova’s murderer. "We do not agree with this sentence; [Bishimbayev] should sit in prison for life. He will come out sooner anyway – we urge you never to be silent: if you have the desire and will for it, resist," Vlast.kz quoted Feminita co-founder Zhanar Sekerbaeva as saying. The spokesperson for the Astana court where Bishimbayev was sentenced, Alma Yesymova, has commented that he has received the maximum possible sentence for the crimes he was found guilty of: murder and torture. "The punishment was imposed for committing a particularly grave crime – murder. The sanction for this is a maximum of 20 years of imprisonment. And by partial addition of terms [Bishimbayev] was given four more years for torture. Under the law the very maximum sentence is 25 years, while he was given 24 years," Yesymova said at a press conference after the trial. The trial itself drew criticism from Kazakhstan’s legal professionals. Lawyers and human rights activists are unsatisfied with how both the prosecution and the defense were conducted. Following Nukenova's death, President Tokayev signed a Decree in December 2023 to improve human rights and the rule of law, including by promoting gender equality, combating any form of domestic violence and enhancing the performance of the criminal justice system (which, among other things, involved increasing penalties for perpetrators of domestic violence). The human rights components of the President’s reform agenda was...

Kuandyk Bishimbayev Sentenced to 24 Years for the Murder of Saltanat Nukenova

Kuandyk Bishimbayev, a former Minister of National Economy of Kazakhstan under then-President Nursultan Nazarbayev, was sentenced on Monday to 24 years in prison in the specialized inter-district investigative court of Astana for torturing and murdering his common-law wife, Saltanat Nukenova, at the Gastrocenter Restaurant on November 9, 2023. The verdict and sentence in an Astana courtroom followed a live-streamed trial that galvanized discussion about domestic violence in Kazakhstan and tested the ability of the criminal justice system to hold the powerful and influential to account. Rallies in support of Nukenova spread outside of Kazakhstan, and were staged in Czechia, Georgia, Italy, Spain, and numerous other countries. [caption id="attachment_17886" align="alignnone" width="2048"] A rally in Prague in support of Saltanat Nukenova. Image Source: Asel Kamiyeva [/caption] Judge Aizhan Kulbaeva read out the ruling after a jury trial as Bishimbayev stood in the glass-paneled dock, his head bowed at one point. He had acknowledged beating Nukenova and said his actions, which were captured on CCTV video, led to her death. But he claimed he did not intend to kill her. "Bishimbayev Kuandyk Alikhanovich has been found guilty of committing criminal offenses under p. 1. 2 part 2 of article 110 ("Torture") and point 5 part 2 of article 99 ("Murder"). 2 part 2 of article 99 ("Murder") of the Criminal Code," stated the judge. He was sentenced to 7 years on the first count, and 20 years on the second, which after a partial addition of terms amounted to 24 years in prison. [caption id="attachment_17896" align="alignnone" width="1200"] Image from the Astana court session[/caption] In addition, the director of Gastrocenter, Bakhytzhan Baizhanov was found guilty of harboring a particularly serious crime in advance and sentenced to four years in prison in a medium security penal institution, with time already served being taken into account. During the trial, as public outrage over Nukenova’s killing simmered in Kazakhstan, President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev signed a new law in April in line with OECD standards which tightens the penalties for domestic violence and provides more help for survivors. The legislation became widely-dubbed, "Saltanat's Law." The response to Saltanat Nukenova's harrowing attack signals a positive trend for women’s rights in the region. The case quickly advanced to a jury trial, given full transparency via a live broadcast, with a female prosecutor at the helm — a clear stance on gender violence in Kazakhstan. Human Rights Watch commended the law as a step forward, but say it should have designated domestic violence as “stand-alone offense,” which would allow other types of violence within the family, such as psychological or sexual, to be thoroughly investigated and prosecuted. The UNDP, meanwhile, commended “legislative initiatives protecting women’s [and] children’s rights,” calling them a “crucial step towards equality, justice [and] safety for all citizens” that “lay a foundation for a stable, prosperous society.” This is not be the first time that Bishimbayev has been sentenced. In 2018 he received a ten-year sentence for accepting bribes, but after less than a year later he was pardoned...

Bishimbayev: Kazakhstan Awaits Verdict in Pivotal Murder Case

This is not in doubt in the live-streamed trial in Kazakhstan: The former economy minister brutally beat his wife and she died from her injuries. Was it murder with particular cruelty and torture, as prosecutors allege? Or was the killing unintentional, making it a lesser crime commensurate with manslaughter or culpable homicide, as the defense says? After weeks of dramatic testimony, the jury is expected to deliberate and reach a verdict soon. Whichever way it goes, the decision in the trial of Kuandyk Bishimbayev, whose fatal beating of Saltanat Nukenova at a restaurant in Almaty, Kazakhstan in November was partly captured in CCTV footage, is one chapter in a fraught reckoning over domestic violence that is only just emerging into the open in a Central Asian country where speaking out is sometimes discouraged. In other countries where powerful men have been accused of murdering female partners, some sensational cases have, at least temporarily, energized debate and campaigns to protect women from domestic violence even if the legal outcomes have bitterly disappointed the families of the dead. There was the trial of athlete and celebrity O.J. Simpson, acquitted in the 1994 deaths of ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman in Los Angeles. In South Africa, former Paralympic champion Oscar Pistorius was freed on parole in January, 11 years after murdering girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in a Valentine's Day shooting. As public outrage over Nukenova’s killing simmered in Kazakhstan, President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev signed a new law in April, inline with OECD standards, that tightens penalties for domestic violence and provides more help for survivors. Human Rights Watch is among groups that have commended the law as a step forward but say it should have designated domestic violence as  “stand-alone offense,” which would allow other types of violence within the family, such as psychological or sexual, to be thoroughly investigated and prosecuted. The trial has thrust Kazakhstan’s criminal justice system, which can often be opaque, into the international spotlight. The unprecedented access to the Astana courtroom for online viewers has generally reflected well on Kazakhstan, showcasing a female judge, Aizhan Kulbaeva, as well as female prosecutor Aizhan Aimaganova, who at one point held up a bottle of red liquid to show the size of the fatal blood clot in Nukenova’s head. Aimaganova also said Bishimbayev tried to cover up the crime and that, while he had a mind and intellect, there was “no heart” nor any shred of remorse and compassion in his eyes. The jury consists of ten citizens and the judge, who is likely to hold considerable sway over the group. A simple majority is needed to reach a verdict. Kazakhstan started introducing jury trials in 2007 and has received U.S. and European guidance over the years. In 2018, Bishimbayev was sentenced to jail time for corruption, but was later released as part of an amnesty. If convicted of murder, he could face 15 years to life in prison. In his final remarks in court, he said he was sorry...

Bishimbayev Trial: Will the “Show” Shift Reality?

The trial of Kuandyk Bishimbayev, accused of murdering his common-law wife, Saltanat Nukenova, is coming to an end with the verdict now in the hands of the jury. The trial has resonated widely in Kazakhstani society, but according to Gulmira Ileuova, a sociologist and head of the public foundation, Strategy: Center for Social and Political Research, Kazakhstan still has a long way to go to successfully fight abusive relationships. Ileuva commented on the case in an interview with the Times of Central Asia.   TCA: In Kazakhstan, Bishimbayev's trial has received a huge amount of attention, and Nukenova's death is being discussed at home and abroad, with rallies being held in her memory. Moreover, a law toughening penalties for domestic violence has recently been passed. Will that help to radically change the situation with violence to which thousands of Kazakhstani women are subjected every year? Ileuova: It seems to me that Bishimbayev's trial has influenced some categories of people - those who are ready to listen and draw conclusions. But society in a broader sense will not be overtly affected by this situation. Specialists are watching the trial, examining the behavior of lawyers, prosecutors, and other participants. Conclusions are also being drawn that the arguments used by the defense remain childish, infantile. Public opinion attributes to Bishimbayev's lawyers, let's say, the moral image of Bishimbayev himself. Psychologists will also draw conclusions: about problems with upbringing, family relations, etc. But in general, the feeling is that of a show having been created, captivating the audience, and making [the audience] terrified or delighted. Emotional swings are created, adrenaline is produced, and accordingly, people watch and get involved. But I doubt that there has been a profound shift in society against the backdrop of the trial. There needs to be a lot of additional activities, outreach, to tie the new law on domestic violence, in particular, to direct practice. Just the other day, the wife of a Kazakhstani diplomat appealed to the authorities for protection, saying that her husband had been torturing her for years and had beaten her again. This particular man did not draw any conclusions from Bishimbayev's story, including concerning his own actions. This official should have realized that the president was one of the most active initiators of the law on domestic violence. Of course, further public reaction will also be influenced by the expected decision of the court in the Bishimbayev case. If the principle of the inevitability of punishment and changes in the judicial system are demonstrated, there will be a certain shift. However, for now it is perceived mainly as a show. There is still an educational effect [only] in a small segment of society.   TCA: Why doesn't society perceive such clear signals? Why isn't there a shift to zero tolerance for domestic violence? Ileuova: We want change too fast, which is hardly possible because the inertia within society is huge. If women are sold for kalym (bride price or dowry), then they are still...

Ex-Minister Bishimbayev Delivers Last Words in Court Amid Murder Case

In a pivotal moment that gripped the nation, ex-minister Kuandyk Bishimbayev, alongside his relative Bakhytzhan Baizhanov, stood before a court in Astana on May 6, 2024, to deliver their final statements in a high-profile murder case that has captivated public attention. The courtroom, charged with anticipation, listened intently as Bishimbayev and Baizhanov articulated their last words before the verdict. Bishimbayev, facing charges of murder with particular cruelty and torture of Saltanat Nukenova, expressed profound remorse and a plea for forgiveness. His voice steady, yet laden with emotion, Bishimbayev recounted the events leading to Nukenova's demise, emphasizing the unintentional nature of her death. "I never wished Saltanat to die," he stated, addressing the court and jurors, "I am not guilty of premeditated murder." The forensic evidence cited by Bishimbayev highlighted a hematoma as the cause of Nukenova's death, further distancing the defendant from allegations of intentional harm. Despite the social and media pressure surrounding the case, Bishimbayev remained steadfast in his acknowledgment of guilt, albeit not for premeditated murder. His repentance extended to the public, his family, and friends, underscoring the personal and societal repercussions of his actions. Baizhanov, on the other hand, faced accusations of concealing the crime. In his statement, Baizhanov vehemently denied any prior knowledge of Bishimbayev's actions, asserting that his involvement was without the intention of hiding a crime. "If I had known, I would not have committed these acts," Baizhanov declared, pressing his claim of innocence in the charge of concealing the crime. The case, stemming from the discovery of Nukenova's body on November 9, 2023, at the BAU restaurant owned by Bishimbayev's family, has shed light on darker undercurrents of power and tragedy. Bishimbayev's admission of negligent homicide served to add layers to a case already heavy with implications and public scrutiny. As the trial, which commenced on March 27, draws to a close, hundreds of thousands across Kazakhstan and beyond await the final judgment. The proceedings have not only underscored the legal complexities inherent in such a case, but also reflected broader societal concerns over justice, accountability, and the human capacity for regret and redemption. The coming verdict will not only determine the fate of Bishimbayev and Baizhanov, but also serve as a significant moment in Kazakhstan's judicial history, symbolizing the law's stance on crimes of such a grave nature and the pursuit of truth and justice. Against the backdrop of this high-profile case, human rights groups had called on the authorities in Kazakhstan to toughen penalties for domestic violence. Parliament approved the relevant draft, which the public dubbed "Saltanat’s law", and the document was signed into law by the president on April 15.

A View from the Rally in Prague in Support of Saltanat Nukenova

On Sunday, 21 April in the center of Prague on Wenceslas Square, some 200 people attended a rally in memory of Saltanat Nukenova and in protest against violence against women. The event took place against the backdrop of the trial of former Kazakh minister, Kuandyk Bishimbayev, who is accused of torturing and murdering Saltanat Nukenova, with whom he was bound in a common-law marriage. In an interview with The Times of Central Asia, Aruzhan, one of the organizers, described the various problems encountered by the team, beginning with the hostile criticism expressed by many young hecklers with little or no knowledge of the situation. “We were bombarded with comments like, ‘Kazakhstan has enough problems;’ ‘Why didn't you come out for the floods?’, ‘Only one person died,’ and so on. It was both frustrating and unpleasant to see that side of our young people but I think, and hope, that the rally woke some of them up and changed their minds.There were also those in Saltanat Ushin's group who twice expressed their ‘valuable opinion’ and provoked quarrels between the participants." Image: Asel Kamiyeva   Despite a statement issued by the Foreign Ministry of Kazakhstan that it was happy for its youth to speak out, there was a marked absence of support from the embassy. Aruzhan said it was disappointing, but nowhere near as bad as what happened in Tbilisi, where during a similar rally the Kazakh embassy had openly threatened and called in the organizers. Aruzhan explained that officials had accused the organizers of acting in defiance of the embassy, and, whilst logging their details, told them they should be ashamed and focus instead on other problems. She said that they been repeatedly told, "the law's already been passed, so calm down.” “In every city where a rally was held, the embassy behaved in this way, even after the Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement claiming they supported our action and were happy for us to express our position." Aruzhan described an incident which illustrated that a close eye was being kept on proceedings: "Before the rally, a large car arrived on site. Intimidating-looking men leapt out, made a quick assessment of the number of people gathered, and drove off. They spoke in Russian and Kazakh." Image: Asel Kamiyeva   Another challenge facing the organizers, was the lack of media support. "The groups to which I made initial announcements about the rally deleted my posts, explaining that they had 'cultural content that does not concern politics'. It was funny and sad to read this; funny that we are perceived not to touch politics, and sad that they are so shaken by it. In Istanbul, the embassy scared people so much that they gave up the idea of going to the rally. At our rally, we shot reportage that came out more like a social video. Not a single media outlet picked it up. I think that says a lot about how censorship works. So we turned to bloggers, Russian-speaking media...

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