Monday, September 01, 2014


Kazakhstan

Kazakh Border Guard Charged In Slayings

A file photo of a Kazakh border post.
A file photo of a Kazakh border post.
By RFE/RL's Kazakh Service
ASTANA -- A spokesman for the Kazakh Prosecutor-General's Office says a border guard has been charged with murder over the killings of 14 fellow border guards and a forest ranger.
 
Nurdaulet Suindikov told reporters on June 7 that Private Vladislav Chelakh, 19, has confessed to the killings, which occurred last week at a remote outpost in Kazakhstan's southeast, along the Kazakh-Chinese border.
 
"During interrogations in the presence of a lawyer, Chelakh has confessed to killing his colleagues and Ruslan Kim," the forest ranger, Suindikov said.
 
"According to Chelakh, internal conflicts and an unexplained insanity that struck him led to the crime he committed. Chelakh denies any involvement of other people in the crime."
 
Suindikov said the 15 men were killed early on May 28 in the morning, while most of them were sleeping.
 
"According to Chelakh's testimony, the chronology of the killings was this: first a night-watch soldier was killed at his post outside the checkpoint," Suindikov said.
 
"Then Chelakh returned to the barracks and shot his colleagues dead there, nine of whom were sleeping. The forest ranger Ruslan Kim was killed last."
 
Suindikov added that Chelakh had told investigators that even after killing his colleagues, he repeatedly fired from different angles before setting the outpost ablaze.
 
Confession Questioned
 
Observers in Kazakhstan have expressed doubts that a 19-year-old soldier could have shot so many people alone and in cold blood before attempting a meticulous cover-up.
 
A newsreader for the popular Almaty-based Channel 31 television channel, Vladislav Dlinnov, has resigned after he refused to broadcast an initial report about Chelakh's alleged confession on June 6.
 
Chelakh's relatives say they believe he is innocent. His mother, Svetlana Chelakh, told RFE/RL that it was very likely that his confession -- if there was one indeed -- had been obtained by force.
 
"I do not know to what extent it is true that he confessed or not, I think he was forced to do so," she said. "I will never believe that my child could do that. He is the kindest child. He has never had any sort of psychological problems, absolutely nothing like that."
 
Suindikov also said at the press conference on June 7 that Aleksei Fomin, the officer responsible for the remote Sary Bokter border post, has been arrested and charged with failure to report that communication had been severed between his station's headquarters and the outpost between May 28 and May 30.
 
Investigators found the outpost destroyed by fire on May 30. Chelakh, the 15th border guard who had been missing after the incident, was found alive on June 5.
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Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Allan N. Mac Millan Jr. from: Portland Oregon , USA
June 07, 2012 18:00
Although anything is possible, I find it strange all those people could have been shot, by one person, in the same room, without waking up someone to raise an alarm unless they are arming 19 year old border guards with silencers! And I mean real good silencers! I doubt it. When was the last time you were in a "BARRACKS" of men doing guard duty, and not wake one man in the bunk next to you just walking between the bunks, let alone hearing the action of a weapon snapping back and forth. Another question is what is a forest ranger doing [supposedly asleep as well] at a border station, which from the picture, hasn't any forest in the immediate area? I also realize the thought process involved in killing a man can lead to "witness elimination" but when you are stationed at a post you are on a roster, if your body isn't there, the witness issue is rather moot. Finally, I don't care if the Prosecutor-Generals office did get a confession from Chelakh, after that kind of incident, a 19 year old is not competent. Oh! sorry, one more thing. Did Chelakh just go to town or something for a beer, after being so careful to kill everyone one at a time? Did he have a hot date he felt he needed to get to? I for one am not as easily swayed into blindly believing the story given to me by "any" Government official, even my own, without the right access to the facts, and if an outside agency [one not affiliated with either party] is not allowed, or brought in to define the truth pertaining to this unquestionably bizarre act, how can the world respect the final outcome of judgement? I am not, for or against, Chelakh or the Officials involved in this case, I just want the truth. Just as much as the families of those who were killed.

by: William Courtney from: Washington DC
June 08, 2012 02:32
An independent international investigation should take place to assess what happened at the isolated Kazakhstani-Chinese border post. It is hard to believe that Private Chelakh murdered so many of his colleagues. The resignation of a Kazakhstani newscaster who refused to broadcast an initial report of Chelakh's confession further undermines the credibility of official assertions about the cause of the tragedy.

Last December in Zhanaozen, security forces fired on and killed a number of unarmed protesters. Zhanaozen was then closed off, independent investigations were not allowed, and the authorities blamed hooligans. Only when a video by onlookers showed that security forces shot retreating protesters did the authorities admit to more of the truth. They continued, however, to claim that fewer people were killed than the number suggested by other indications.

Now the government lacks credibility to conduct an investigation. The people of Kazakhstan and the international community will not believe the results. There will be suspicions that Private Chelakh is being blamed in order to cover up a more serious or systemic problem.

The Kazakhstani government can build confidence by requesting and cooperating fully with an international investigation, such as one conducted under the auspices of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe or Interpol.

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