The Kazakh Opposition in Exile is protesting against Switzerland granting political asylum to the former Mayor of Almaty Viktor Khrapunov and his family. Journalistic circles have publicised the fact that the former Mayor of Almaty, Akim of the East Kazakhstan Province and Kazakh Minister for Emergencies Viktor Khrapunov and the members of his family have applied to Switzerland for political asylum as members of the opposition and campaigners for human rights.

Greater cynicism and hypocrisy would be hard to imagine: the tormentor of the democratic opposition declaring himself to be a martyr of the regime he served loyally for many years. A corrupt official who amassed enormous wealth in his years of working for a modest government salary presents himself as a victim of the fight against corruption. The head of a family every member of which has become a multi-millionaire is now denouncing the ruling Nazarbayev family…

Kazakh citizens will not forget that it was precisely during Mayor Khrapunov’s period in office that there was a total purge of the democratic movement in Almaty, that civic organisations were shut down, high-profile politicians and human rights activists were entrapped and politically motivated trials conducted. Thanks to the efforts of Viktor Khrapunov and others, Almaty, the intellectual centre of the country and an outpost of free-thinking, was turned into a pitiful, spiritual “semi-desert”. Many opposition leaders were forced to leave the country, ended up in prison or were condemned to silence.

Rakhat Aliyev, the head of the Almaty department of the National Security Committee (NSC), orchestrated the repression of the opposition and human rights activists in the city. He was able to rely on the full support and co-operation of the city administration headed by Mr. Khrapunov.

During Mayor Khrapunov’s years in office, his family’s behaviour epitomised that of the nouveaux riches, grandees who become rich suddenly and through no effort of their own. "Jumped up nobodies" is what the city's people thought when they witnessed Viktor Khrapunov and Leila Beketova’s ludicrous family occasions and their ostentatious profligacy and vulgarity.

We can say with certainty that the huge Khrapunov family fortune which has now been transferred abroad is of criminal origin. The wealth of the Khrapunov-Beketova family won’t become hard-earned just because they denounce President Nazarbayev once abroad. All the villas, boutiques and hotels being built in Switzerland by Khrapunov’s son Ilyas are being paid for by the hard work of people from Almaty, Ust-Kamenogorsk and all over Kazakhstan.

Viktor Khrapunov and Rakhat Aliyev are back together again. They are trying to receive asylum in Europe, hoping that the authorities there won’t be aware of their stories. The Kazakh democratic opposition will not allow that to happen. The office of the Kazakh opposition in exile is willing to provide the Swiss authorities with a list of witnesses who can give testimony on Viktor Khrapunov’s persecution of the democratic and human rights movements both while serving as the Mayor of Almaty and as the Governor of the East Kazakhstan Province.

The Kazakh opposition in exile appeals to the Swiss authorities and to those of the Canton of Geneva to make thorough inquiries into the origin of the funds the Khrapunov-Beketova family has brought with them to Switzerland and not to grant them asylum.

Otherwise Geneva would have Kazakh journalist Lira Bayseitova, herself a victim of serious attacks and whose daughter died in police custody, living with her grandson alongside Viktor Khrapunov and his family, all as political refugees. Moreover, Viktor Khrapunov was Mayor of Almaty at the very time the reprisals against Lira Bayseitova and her daughter took place and the newspaper which she edited was destroyed.

The Overseas Liaison Office of the Kazakh Democratic Opposition

Montreal, August 6th 2012