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Jailed Kazakh Rights Defender Denied Parole


Yevgeny Zhovtis is serving a four-year sentence for vehicular manslaughter in a case criticized by human rights groups.

Yevgeny Zhovtis is serving a four-year sentence for vehicular manslaughter in a case criticized by human rights groups.

OSKEMEN/ALMATY, Kazakhstan -- A prominent jailed Kazakh human rights defender has been denied parole, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reports.

Yevgeny Zhovtis is serving a four-year sentence for vehicular manslaughter in a case criticized by human rights groups.

Sergei Duvanov, head of the Committee to Defend Zhovtis, told journalists that the parole board in the northeastern city of Oskemen said Zhovtis is not participating in "everyday social life" at his labor camp and has not been rewarded for good behavior or his labor.

The commission said that Zhovtis had instead received several reprimands for his refusal to sign a work agreement with labor camp officials and had been watching television at an "inappropriate time."

Zhovtis was sentenced and jailed in 2009 for his role in a traffic accident in which the car he was driving hit and killed a pedestrian. He has been serving his four-year jail term in the minimum-security labor camp in Oskemen.

Zhovtis is the head of the Kazakh Bureau for Human Rights in Almaty and has often spoken out about alleged rights violations committed by the Kazakh government.

Fellow bureau member Viktoriya Tyuleneva described the board's finding as subjective because it said Zhovtis is not "on the path of correction."

Svetlana Vitkovskaya, Zhovtis's wife and lawyer, said he will make an official request for the board's decision to be revised.

Human rights activists consider the verdict against Zhovtis to be unusually harsh and say the sentence is retaliation for his professional activities.

His case was raised by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during a visit to Astana last month.

In November, a New York-based advocacy group, the Open Society Justice Initiative, said Zhovtis had filed a complaint with the United Nations Human Rights Committee, alleging that his imprisonment was meant to silence him.

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