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Kazakh Rights Activist Under Investigation After Testimony At European Parliament

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

A Kazakh human rights activist, Yelena Semyonova, is under investigation after she testified at the European Parliament about a mass self-mutilation by inmates in a Kazakh penitentiary.

Semyonova told RFE/RL on July 23 that police had visited her apartment in the northern city of Pavlodar on July 20 and taken her to a police station, where she was questioned for several hours.

Semyonova says she was questioned 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.

Police informed Semyonova that a probe had been launched against her by the Interior Affairs Department of the central Qaraghandy region on charges of "intentionally spreading false information" about mass self-mutilation by inmates in a Qaragandhy prison.

If charged and convicted, Semyonova may face up to five years in prison.

After the questioning, police confiscated Semyonova’s phone and searched her apartment, taking away her computer, her daughter's computer, and many documents, including papers linked to inmates' complaints about their rights being abused.

Semyonova says she was ordered not to leave Pavlodar while investigations against her are under way.

The Frontline Defenders and Open Dialogue rights organization expressed concerns over Semyonova's fate after her whereabouts remained unknown following her questioning by police on June 20.

The group called on European Parliament members to raise her case with Kazakh authorities.

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