Statement on Umarali Kuvvatov’s Arrested in the UAE

January 31, 2013

In 2012 we invited our friends from the post-Soviet countries to speak at a number of mass rallies in Moscow alongside with the leading Russian politicians and prominent public figures. On December 23 Umarali Kuvvatov, leader of the Tajik pro-democracy alliance Group-24, was detained in Dubai airport and has been held in custody at Dubai Police C.I.D. for over a month now. Mr Kuvvatov was detained at the request of the Tajikistani authorities demanding his extradition. In case of a positive decision by the UAE authorities, Mr Kuvvatov will be imprisoned and tortured in an attempt to force him to make a public confession.

Although Mr Kuvvatov openly spoke against President Rahmon just a few months ago, he has already gained some publicity in Russia as well as in Tajikistan. According to the estimates, some 1 to 2 million Tajik currently live in Russia, and part of them already have Russian citizenship. Since more than half of all Tajik working-age men have to look for a job abroad, abuse cases and human tragedies are not infrequent in Tajikistan. This is one of the main reasons for an avalanche of criticism against President Rahmon, including on the part of the Tajik community in Russia. Meanwhile, the Russian government continues to support President Rahmon as before, just as many other oppressive regimes, despite a train of diplomatic failures caused by that support.

Officials and government agencies charged with Russian foreign policy are either unwilling to see the real challenges of the changing world or are unable to do so. The countries that have overthrown erstwhile dictators look at Russia with suspicion if not animosity, whereas our so-called allies keep on impudently demanding from Russia dividends for their loyalty. Yet, they are keen to turn their back on Russia whenever they have a chance, to the point that they conduct raids in the Russian territory. In January last year there was an assassination attempt on Dododjon Atovulloyev, a Tajik dissident; a few weeks ago at the very centre of Moscow in full view of dozens of people a trade-union leader from Kazakhstan Ainur Kurmanov narrowly escaped abduction.

Alliances between oppressive authoritarian regimes can be of no benefit even to themselves. International cooperation among various civil society organisations of our countries, on the other hand, is a good way for common advancement and a key to solving the existing issues. For Russian civil society Umarali Kuvvatov is one of dialogue partners. The predicament he finds himself in now requires a public expression of solidarity.

We would like to draw the attention of the UAE authorities and international human rights organizations to the fact that this is clearly a case of persecution on political grounds and that Mr Kuvvatov’s extradition would effectively mean his surrender for a brutal reprisal. Therefore, there is a clear threat to his health and life. We call upon all those who are to decide on Umarali Kuvvatov’s lot not to make a fatal mistake.

Alexander Belov, “The Russians” ethno-political union, Chairman of Supervisory Board

Denis Bilunov, 5 December Party, Member of Federal Council

Garry Kasparov, United Civil Front, Chairman

Ilya Ponomarev, Member of Parliament (the Russian State Duma)

Sergey Udaltsov, Left Front, Coordinator