Ms. D. Kaliyeva is a principled supporter of peaceful activity in the field of human rights, an organizer of campaigns for human rights and strict compliance by the state authorities with the legislation and Constitution. She acted as an observer in a mobile group during the 9 June 2019 Presidential election in Kazakhstan. She participated in public hearings on peaceful assembly, and covered the court trials of civil society activists who participated in peaceful assemblies. Moreover, she covered almost all of the peaceful assemblies that were held in Almaty during the past year.
Danaya Kaliyeva was among the organizers of a rally in Almaty on 4 September 2019 that criticized the actions of China.
Throughout her entire professional activity as a civil society activist, Danaya has been subjected to persecution on multiple occasions, including in 2020.
On 29 April 2020, a guilty verdict was issued against her under section 2 of article 378 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Kazakhstan (Insult of a representative of a government authority), whereunder Ms. Kaliyeva was sentenced to a penalty of twenty times the monthly calculation index, or 55,560 tenge (approximately 130 dollars) and had to pay to the state budget an amount of 139,489.54 tenge (approximately 330 US dollars) as court fees.
On 4 May 2020, Ms. Kaliyeva was interrogated as part of a pre-trial investigation under subsection 4 of section 2 of article 274 (Dissemination of knowingly false information) of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Kazakhstan. The reason for the pre-trial investigation was a post published on 4 April 2020 in a Telegram channel called “Notes of an Elder”: “While it is Corona-Virus to Some People, to Mr. Mamin, BI Group, and Mr. Rakhimbayev, it is Corona-Business,” which was reposted on Ms. Kaliyeva’s page in a social network. The publication pertained to BI Group, a construction company that in early April 2020 won a contract to build three specialized hospitals within three weeks to treat infectious diseases, in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. The publication touched on several relevant issues, such as whether those hospitals were indeed necessary, or why the company was awarded a contract without a tender, or why there was no project documentation available, etc. As part of the criminal inquiry, Ms. Kaliyeva has been given the status of “a witness with a right to defence.” Despite the claimant withdrawing his complaint eventually, the case has not been dismissed due to it being a “public prosecution case.” Currently the case has the status “undefined,” and Ms. Kaliyeva’s status of “a witness with a right to defence” remains unchanged.
Legal assistance to Ms. D. Kaliyeva has been provided by advocate Ms. Zh. Balgabayeva, with the support from the Kazakhstan International Bureau for Human Rights and the Rule of Law.
In a similar case, Ms. Kaliyeva on 20 July 2020 was brought to the police and questioned as “a witness with a right to defence” in a case of “dissemination of knowingly false information in a state of emergency” (section 4 of article 274 of the Criminal Code). The reason for the questioning was Mr. Kaliyeva’s posts, reposts and tags on Facebook which was published on 5 February 2020 and which questioned the reasonableness of Zhylstroysberbank of Kazakhstan JSC’s expenditures for goods, works and services. In her publications, Ms. Kaliyeva noted that the bank was planning on spending a billion and a half tenge (USD3.5 million) on pens, hole punchers, calculators and other business supplies.
Nurlan Rakhmanov, an advocate, who was in attendance during the questioning said that he and his client were presented after the questioning with what seems to be “a ready-to-go expert opinion of philologists derived from 32 posts.” According to the expert opinion, the posts contain information that might give occasion to discreditation of the bank and damage its business reputation.
According to the advocate, “the police searched Dayana’s apartment and seized all electronics and phones, of her and her family members. The questioning at the police station took eight hours. The case was initiated based on a lawsuit filed by the bank’s representative on 20 April 2020. As short a time as 5 May 2020, the investigator already had an expert opinion claiming that the information was purportedly false and promoted a negative perception of the bank.”
Therefore, currently Ms. Dayana Kaliyeva is “a witness with a right to defence,” in not one but two criminal cases.
Section 5 of article 78 of the Criminal Procedural Code of the Republic of Kazakhstan states “If a person has been indicated in a lawsuit and a report of a crime as a person that has allegedly committed such an act, or if a witness participating in the criminal process provides a testimony with respect to such a person, but the person in question has not been subjected to a procedural arrest or no resolution has been issued to declare such a person a suspect, such person acquires the status of a witness with a right to defence.”
Such phrasing provides no clear determination of the status of “a witness with a right to defence.” However, it presumes that such a legal status essentially means the person in question is “a suspect.” This gives the authorities investigating the criminal case a leverage in applying additional psychological pressure on the person who finds himself/herself in such a status, even without direct and sufficient evidence of his/her guilt.
Kazakhstan International Bureau for Human Rights and the Rule of Law
28 July 2020