Mr. Abishev promoted the ideas of democracy and human rights on Facebook. He made video footage calling for political change. Acted as moderator of opposition groups on social networks. He held himself as a principled supporter of peaceful human rights actions.
Mr. Abishev has supported the opposition movement “The Democratic Choice of Kazakhstan” (DCK). The movement was proclaimed as extremist and banned on 13 March 2018 by a ruling of the Esil district court in Astana, but independent observers and human rights activists consider such a decision politically motivated because the movement did not call for or commit violence.
Mr. Abishev has also been active in drawing the public attention to such issues as:
- formation and expression of the will of citizens and social groups;
- support for people with autism;
- legal assistance on the matters of legality of peaceful assembly;
- raising the level of education at schools and higher educational institutions;
- improvement of well being of vulnerable groups.
Mr. Abishev was arrested on 7 July 2018 and charged of taking part in a public association in respect of which there has been issued and entered into legal force a court ruling banning such association on the grounds of it being extremist (article 405 part 2 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Kazakhstan), and of financing of a criminal organization (article 266 part 1 of the Criminal Code). It was all about the banned movement “Democratic Choice of Kazakhstan.”
As the ground for criminal prosecution of Mr. Abishev, and evidence of him committing “crimes,” the investigators said he acted with an intent, i.e. in order to provide information services to the criminal group and extremist organization “Democratic Choice of Kazakhstan” he used his Facebook account “Asset Abishev” to publish audio, video, and photo materials showcasing the activity of the banned organization “Democratic Choice of Kazakhstan.” The prosecution concluded that, acting in such a way, Mr. Abishev participated in the activity of DCK, an organization in respect of which there has been issued and entered into legal force a court decision banning it based on its extremist nature.
According to independent observers, the trial in Mr. Abishev’s case was conducted with an accusatory bias, and on 30 November 2018 he was found guilty of committing crimes under article 266 part 1 and article 405 part 2 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Kazakhstan, and sentenced to four years in prison. A court of appeal (the Almaty city court) upheld the first-instance verdict, holding a session without Mr. Abishev in attendance as he was placed in a detention facility.
While in prison, Mr. Abishev continued to be actively involved in human rights, and provided legal help to his fellow prisoners. On 23-25 April 2019 planned searches were conducted at LA 155/14 facility in Almaty oblast where Mr. Abishev is serving his sentence, over the course of which, he claims, he was subjected to harsh treatment on the part of the officers. Based on his written complaint a criminal case was initiated under article 146 of the Criminal Code (Torture), which was suspended, resumed, and then suspended again. To date, no results of the investigation have been released.
On 27 December 2019, the Kapshagay city court denied Mr. Abishev’ plea to grant his request for replacement of his sentence for a more lenient one. The section ‘Statement of Reasons’ of the resolution said that the denial was based on the fact that Mr. Abishev’s behaviour had not been defined clearly and it was not certain whether or not he had taken the path to correction. On 12 February 2020, an appeal court for the Almaty oblast turned down a special complaint filed by Ms. G. Zhuaspayeva, Mr. Abishev’s advocate, appealing the above resolution.
On 7 April 2020 Mr. Abishev was incarcerated for 15 days for allegedly trying to leave the local unit, resisting a body search, and having a mobile phone on him at the time of the search. On 22 April 2020, Mr. Abishev was again placed in a disciplinary detention centre for 10 days for failing to observe the neat-appearance and personal hygiene order (he was unshaven). While in the disciplinary cell, the centre’s administration blocked Mr. Abishev from accessing an attorney.
On 2 June 2020, the Kapshagay city court began hearing of Mr. Abishev’s motion for parole.