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Kazakh Human Rights Defender Not Allowed To Travel To Europe

Kazakh rights activist Yelena Semyonova (file photo)
Kazakh rights activist Yelena Semyonova (file photo)

Kazakh human rights activist Yelena Semyonova says she has been barred from traveling to Europe, where she was scheduled to meet with EU lawmakers to discuss problems faced by inmates in Kazakh penitentiaries.

In a video posted on Facebook late on October 8 from the airport in Almaty, Semyonova said that border guards prevented her from boarding a flight to Strasbourg, France.

Semyonova had planned to meet there with the president and members of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE).

She said she was told that she is prohibited from traveling abroad due to an investigation launched by the Interior Affairs Department of the central Qaraghandy region.

Semyonova told RFE/RL in July that the investigation, on suspicion of the "intentional spreading of false information," was launched after she testified at the European Parliament about the situation in Kazakh jails and prisons.

Semyonova said at the time that police questioned her for several hours regarding her visit to Strasbourg on July 3-5 where she met with European politicians with whom she discussed cases of torture, beatings, and rapes, in Kazakh prisons.

Irish-based human rights organization Front Line Defenders and the Open Dialogue, a rights group based in Poland, expressed concern over the case and called on European Parliament members to discuss her situation with Kazakh authorities.

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