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Kazakh Rights Defender Jailed

Vadim Kuramshin
Vadim Kuramshin
A prominent human rights defender who has drawn attention to problems in Kazakhstan's prisons has been found guilty of hooliganism and sentenced to 10 days in jail, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reports.

Vadim Kuramshin was sentenced on August 29 by a court in Kokshetau in northern Kazakhstan for verbally insulting a man identified as Denis Sitsko.

Viktor Novikov, a leading member of the unregistered Algha (Forward) Party's branch in Kokshetau, told RFE/RL that the prosecutor first tried to charge Kuramshin with beating Sitsko but failed to provide any evidence to substantiate that charge. Kuramshin was, however, found guilty of insulting Sitsko.

According to Novikov, Kuramshin was taken to a jail in Kokshetau immediately after the verdict was pronounced.

On August 28, Kuramshin called RFE/RL and said that an unknown man had attacked him at a bus station in the city. He said he feared for his safety and freedom.

A prominent Kazakh rights activist and former prisoner, Kuramshin has for several months focused on the human rights situation in Kazakhstan's prisons. His colleagues say his sentencing is politically motivated.

In the last several weeks, numerous prisoners at several Kazakh prisons have self-mutilated themselves to protest poor conditions and alleged beatings and other abuse by prison guards. Kuramshin has served as a liaison between the inmates, their relatives, and the media.