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OSCE Reps Visit Jailed Kazakh Rights Activist

Yevgeny Zhovtis
Yevgeny Zhovtis
Officials from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) have met with jailed Kazakh rights activist Yevgeny Zhovtis, RFE/RL Kazakh Service reports.

Douglas Wake, the first deputy director of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), and Jeannette Kloetzer, the deputy head of the OSCE Center in Astana, visited Zhovtis in a jail in the southeastern city of Taldy-Qorgan on September 19.

The OSCE recently expressed concern about reports of many violations of Zhovtis's right to a fair trial.

Wake said that "while we are not suggesting that Zhovtis should receive any special treatment, it is essential that fair-trial standards are fully respected during the appeals process."

He noted that ODIHR has no right to comment or evaluate the position of Kazakh officials in Zhovtis's case.

Wake added that Zhovtis's condition in jail is satisfactory.

Zhovtis's wife, Svetlana Vitkovskaya, told RFE/RL that her husband plans to stay in Kazakhstan and learn the Kazakh language.

A Kazakh court this month sentenced Zhovtis, the director of the nongovernmental organization Bureau for Human Rights, to four years in prison for manslaughter and violating traffic regulations following a July accident in which the car he was driving fatally hit a man on a highway.

Zhovtis has filed an appeal, but a date for the hearing has not been scheduled.

The United States and the European Parliament have also expressed concern over Zhovtis's case and human rights groups such as Freedom House have called his trial unfair.