Kazakhstan: End punitive prison conditions for Vladimir Kozlov


14 September 2015   RAN 11/15

PEN International is deeply concerned that Vladimir Kozlov, Kazakh journalist, human rights defender and a leader of Alga!, a political opposition party who is serving a lengthy prison sentence for his peaceful international advocacy on behalf of the striking oil workers in the city of Zhanaozen, south-west Kazakhstan. Following a hunger strike in protest at his treatment by prison authorities, he was moved to another prison facility where conditions are harsher. He is in poor health. PEN fears this may be intended to prevent his transfer to a penal colony with less stringent conditions of detention, where he could be entitled to be transferred to an open colony or released on parole after serving half of his sentence. PEN is calling for an immediate end to all unlawful and unwarranted punitive measures, for him to receive adequate medical care and to be released immediately and unconditionally.

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Please send appeals to the Kazakhstan authorities urging them to:

  • Release Kozlov immediately and unconditionally, or at least to release him on parole once he has served half of his prison sentence, in accordance with the law in Kazakhstan
  • End all unlawful and unwarranted punitive measures against Vladimir Kozlov in detention and calling on them to grant him access to adequate medical care and ensure his conditions of detention meet international standards;
  • Grant him access to representatives of international human rights mechanisms, diplomatic missions and to human rights NGOs in his current place of detention;
  • Immediately reverse the decision to transfer Kozlov to harsher conditions of detention for one year and return him to a detention facility with less stringent conditions of detention.



President of Kazakhstan

Nursultan Nazarbayev
President’s Office,
010000 Astana
Fax: +7 7172 559338

Minister of Internal Affairs
Kalmukhanbet Kassymov
Ministry of Internal Affairs
Tauelsizdik Avenue, 1
010000 Astana
Republik of Kazakhstan
Email: Kense@mvd.kz

Chairperson of the Criminal-Executive System
Bayurzhan Maratovich Berdalin
Mailin street 2, Astana city B, 010000, Kazakhstan
+7 3172 714505 or 351960
Email: kuis@kuis.kz

Note to PEN Centres: Please keep us informed of any action you take in regard to Vladimir Kozlov’s case.

***Please send appeals immediately. Check with PEN International if sending appeals after 7 October 2015. ***

Please inform us of any action you take, and of any responses you receive


Vladimir Kozlov is a Kazakh journalist, human rights defender and a leader of Alga!, a political opposition party, who is currently serving a seven-and-half-year prison sentence in penal colony LA 155/14 in Zarechnyy village (Illiysky district, Almaty Province) for ‘inciting social discord’ and ‘calling for the overthrow of the constitutional order of the state’. Kozlov was sentenced in 2012, after his peaceful international advocacy on behalf of the striking oil workers in the city of Zhanaozen, south-west Kazakhstan.

Independent observers and human rights organisations consider Kozlov’s trial to have been unfair. PEN International considers Kozlov to be held solely for the peaceful exercise of his right to freedom of expression and is calling for his immediate and unconditional release.

On 17 July 2015, Kozlov was placed in solitary confinement for a period of 10 days, for alleged threats the authorities claimed he had made to the administration of the penal colony. These claims relate to protests Kozlov had made following repeated instances of provocation and punishment.

As a sign of protest, on 20 July 2015, Kozlov began a hunger strike, which he ended on 22 July 2015, following a visit of a delegation from the National Preventive Mechanism Against Torture and Ill-treatment, and in hope of a revocation of the solitary confinement order. However, on 27 July 2015, Kozlov was transferred along with 19 other people to barracks with an area of 50-60 square metres for six months. This was later extended to one year. Phone calls are prohibited, prisoners can only walk for an hour and a half per day, and they are only allowed to see their families three times a year during short visits. On 10 August 2015, Kozlov had a sim-card from a mobile phone planted in his cell. His fears that he would suffer another penalty as a result became a reality when the following day he was sent to a punishment cell for 15 days, which he had recently left.

Poor conditions in detention are used by the Kazakh authorities to exert continuous pressure on detained and imprisoned dissidents, such as poet Aron Atabek who has been in prison since 2007.  PEN International is also campaigning for Atabek to be removed from solitary confinement.

PEN International’s Executive Director Carles Torner met Kozlov in prison in September 2014. A report of the meeting can be read here. Kozlov was one of three ‘Empty Chairs’ at PEN’s 80th International Congress, held in Bishkek in September-October 2015, where a letter from Kozlov to the delegates was read out.

The UN Special Rapporteur on the right to freedom of assembly also met Kozlov in January 2015. In a report issued in June 2015, the Special Rapporteur expressed serious concern at his imprisonment and urged the Kazakh authorities to consider releasing him early. The  European Parliament has also issued several resolutions expressing concern about Kozlov’s case on 22 November, 2012; 13 March, 2014 and 18 April 2014.

For further details contact Ann Harrison at PEN International, Koops Mill, 162-164 Abbey Street, London, SE1 2AN, UK Tel: +44 (0) 20 7405 0338 Fax +44 (0) 20 7405 0339 e-mail: ann.harrison@pen-international.org