Held hostage by Kazakhstan’s regime for 422 days

On November 13, 2017, Kazakhstan’s political police seized a new hostage in their long-running campaign against Mukhtar Ablyazov, the country’s leading political opponent of President Nursultan Nazarbayev. They arrested Iskander Yerimbetov, a successful entrepreneur who has no financial or business links whatsoever, direct or indirect, with Mukhtar Ablyazov. Following Iskander’s arrest, the country’s political police and its agents have tortured, blackmailed and subjected him to extortion in detention. Officials have promised that they would drop the charges against him if he persuades his sister, Bota Jardemalie, to go back to Kazakhstan to provide false testimony against Mukhtar Ablyazov. We ask you to help us free Iskander.

Overview of the war of Kazakhstan’s regime against Mukhtar Ablyazov to be found here.


Iskander has been a successful entrepreneur in Kazakhstan for many years. In 2002, together with well-known Kazakh businessman Margulan Seysembayev, he purchased a telecommunication company KaR-Tel for $12 million, using mostly bank loans. At that time, KaR-Tel had only 200,000 subscribers. The new management restructured the company to become the second largest cellular operator in Kazakhstan, increasing its subscriber base to 670,000. In August 2004, KaR-Tel was sold to Russia’s VimpelCom (the Beeline brand) for $350 million. The same year, Iskander founded SkyService, one of Kazakhstan’s most successful airlines in the field of light aviation, and Sky Tech, a company engaging in technical servicing and heavy repair of helicopters and airplanes. More than 100 people work for both companies. In 2013, Iskander bought Konfety Karagandy, a confectionery factory. At the time of his arrest, more than five hundred jobs were depending on his fate. Himself a pilot, Iskander is married, father of five children, of which three are minors. He also has a grandson.

Document: Who Is Iskander Yerimbetov

Iskander Wall

Key developments

13 March 2018 – Coalition Against Torture urges resumption of torture investigation

In a letter signed by all members and addressed to the Attorney General of Kazakhstan, the Coalition Against Torture urges the Procuracy to resume the pre-trial torture investigation.


12 March 2018 – Freedom House publishes article about Iskander

Freedom House publishes an article by Victoria Tyuleneva, Project Director in Kazakhstan, about Iskander’s situation mentioning other cases in which the Kazakh regime has harassed Mukhtar Ablyazov’s former associates to put pressure on them.


7 March 2018 – Iskander’s written statement to the world

Iskander’s statement: “I have been threatened, tortured and beaten. (…) There is the threat that the torture and beating may resume at any moment!” And: “I would like to extend my gratitude to everyone who is helping me and my family for defending my fair name and freedom!”


6 March 2018 – Iskander’s detention extended until 13 May 2018

A judge after having denied Iskander the right to be present and to speak before the court dismisses all the arguments of the defence and extends Iskander’s detention until 13 May 2018.

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