Kyrgyzstan: alleged privacy violations, harassment, and ban on entry imposed on Sergey Marinin (joint communication)

The following is based on a communication written by the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders to the Government of Kyrgyzstan on 2 November 2022. The communication remained confidential for 60 days before being made public, giving the Government time to reply. Regrettably, the Government did not reply within this time frame. If a reply is received it will be posted on the UN Special Procedures communications database.

Mr. Marinin will have the next hearing on his case on 23 January 2023.

This is a shorter version of the original communication.

Read the full communication

BACKGROUND

Topic: alleged privacy violations, harassment, and ban on entry to Kyrgyzstan imposed on human rights defender Mr. Sergey Marinin, in connection with his legitimate human rights work.

Mr. Sergey Marinin is a human rights defender and researcher from Kazakhstan.

ALLEGATIONS

Since 15 June 2021, Mr. Sergey Marinin has been working for a non-governmental organisation on a project aimed at strengthening civil society and independent media across Central Asia. He was initially based in Kyrgyzstan and, as a citizen of Kazakhstan, was eligible to work there without any special permits.

On 6 April 2022, at 11:50 am, two unknown men, allegedly agents of the Kyrgyzstan’s State Committee for National Security (“SCNS”), reportedly approached Mr. Marinin near his organisation’s office on his way to work. They reportedly introduced themselves as representatives of a “Russian analytical centre”, without showing business cards or telling anything specific about the centre. They asked him several questions about the activities of the non-governmental organisation where he worked. During the conversation, they reportedly showed knowledge of details of his personal life, which were not publicly available, for example, the city of birth and the name of his school in Kazakhstan. Mr. Marinin said he would meet them again on 11 April 2022, but then blocked their phone numbers for safety reasons as prompted by his colleague.

On 27 April 2022, at around 10 am, when Mr. Marinin was on his way to work, the same men waited for him at the bus stop near his home where he usually took the bus. They reportedly insisted on driving him to work and warned him not to record the conversation.

During a one-hour drive to his office, they reportedly offered unspecified “cooperation”, the details of which would be communicated to him later. Again, they displayed knowledge of the non-public details of Mr Marinin’s personal life, for example, his previous home address in Bishkek (where the landlord was allegedly the SCNS officer) and the fact that his family had recently sold a house. They showed Mr. Marinin screenshots from a video secretly filmed in the apartment he was renting and said that they had video evidence of his sexual orientation. They reportedly threatened to distribute the video and publicly disclose his sexual orientation if he did not agree to cooperate. Mr. Marinin was given two hours to decide, after which he was supposed to call them.

On the same day, Mr. Marinin told his colleagues ad the management of the organisation what had happened and that he felt forced to reveal his sexual orientation. It was decided that he would leave for Kazakhstan for safety reasons.

That day the same men reportedly tried to call him and sent messages asking about his decision and urging him “not to hurry and think”. Using a mobile application allowing to identify phone numbers, Mr Marinin confirmed that their real names were different from the names they had given him. On 28 April 2022, Mr. Marinin left Kyrgyzstan and informed the men about it.

On 26 June 2022, he tried to return to Kyrgyzstan through the Ak-Zhol-road checkpoint. The Border Guard Service of Kyrgyzstan reportedly refused his entry without any explanation. The customs officers on Kazakhstan’s side of the border, upon Mr. Marinin’s request, are reported to have provided him with the refusal-of-entry act. The document was signed by the Border Service of Kyrgyzstan’s SCNS and did not contain any justification or details of the refusal.

CONCERNS

In the communication we expressed concern as to the alleged privacy violations, intimidation, harassment, and entry ban on Mr. Sergey Marinin, who appears to be targeted in connection with his legitimate human rights work.

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