Accessibility links

Breaking News

Thousands Bid Farewell To Slain Kazakh Olympic Skating Medalist

Mourners at the funeral for Denis Ten in Almaty on July 21.

ALMATY, Kazakhstan -- Thousands of people turned out at a funeral ceremony in Almaty on July 21 to bid a final farewell to Kazakhstan's Olympic figure skating medalist Denis Ten, two days after the 25-year-old national hero was stabbed to death in broad daylight in central Almaty.

The funeral ceremony took place at the Baluan Sholak Sports Palace in Almaty, the same facility where Ten at the age of 17 had won gold and silver medals in the 2011 Asian Winter Games.

WATCH: The Funeral Ceremony

The 5,000-seat complex was at full capacity for Ten's funeral, and thousands more people stood outside the facility waiting for a chance to file past Ten's open casket and pay their last respects.

Many were in tears as they placed flowers on the floor in front of his casket or on a nearby table where Ten's medals were displayed.

Thousands Say Goodbye To Kazakhstan's Slain Olympic Skating Medalist
please wait

No media source currently available

0:00 0:01:31 0:00

President Nursultan Nazarbaev said in a message that was read out at the event that Ten was "an outstanding personality, a real patriot of Kazakhstan.

Several sports stars from Kazakhstan flew in from abroad to attend the event, including world middleweight boxing champion Gennady Golovkin, who trains in the United States.

"Kazakhstan and the entire world are mourning today," Kazakh Culture and Sports Minister Arystanbek Muhamediuly said at the ceremony. "We have lost the person who wanted to make the world a kinder and better place."

In Kazakhstan's capital, Astana, a simultaneous memorial ceremony was attended by hundreds of people.

After the conclusion of the Almaty ceremony, Ten was taken to the town of Druzhba in the Almaty region where he was buried.

Two men have been detained as part of the investigation into Ten's July 19 stabbing death in central Almaty.

Almaty city police say Arman Qudaibergenov, a 24-year-old native of the southern Qyzylorda region, was apprehended in Almaty's Aqsai district on July 20.

Denis Ten after seeing his scores for the men's free-skate program at the World Figure Skating Championships in Ontario, Canada, in 2013.
Denis Ten after seeing his scores for the men's free-skate program at the World Figure Skating Championships in Ontario, Canada, in 2013.

Authorities say Qudaibergenov confessed to stabbing Ten.

Earlier on July 20, Almaty city prosecutor Berik Zhuiriktaev told reporters that another suspect, Nuraly Qiyasov, born in 1994 and a native of the southern Zhambyl region, had been detained and had also confessed to being involved in the killing.

Ten, who turned 25 in June, was stabbed during a brawl after he confronted two men as they were trying to steal the mirrors off his car.

He reportedly was stabbed in the lower torso and died three hours later at an Almaty hospital.

Mourners place flowers at a ceremony in Astana for Denis Ten.
Mourners place flowers at a ceremony in Astana for Denis Ten.

Ten won a bronze medal at the Sochi Olympics in 2014, making him the first Kazakh skater to win an Olympic medal.

He also had won bronze and silver medals at the world championships in 2013 and 2015.

Kazakh Olympic Committee President Timur Kulibaev said Ten's death was "truly a dark day for all of us who knew and loved this young figure skater and were inspired by his talent and creativity."

Ten had trained in Moscow and in the United States. He skated at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, where he finished 11th. Dogged by injuries, he finished 27th earlier this year at the Olympics in South Korea.

With reporting by Reuters, AP, KazTAG, and Tengrinews
  • 16x9 Image

    RFE/RL's Kazakh Service

    RFE/RL's Radio Azattyq has been an important source of information for people in Kazakhstan for decades. Radio Azattyq reports on compelling stories in both Kazakh and Russian and provides a platform for audience engagement and the free exchange of ideas."