Babakulov, Ulugbek

Gender: .
State of concern: .

Who, Why and How exiled:

Ulugbek Babakulov is a freelance investigative journalist, based in Kyrgyzstan. On 23rd June 2017, he posted an article for Ferghana News entitled "People, like animals", which translated calls for violence towards Uzbeks posted on facebook, following a conflict between one Uzbek and four Kyrgyz men (RFE/RL, 2017). Babakulov argued that he published the article  to alert authorities to threat of nationalism (RFE/RL, 2017).  Following his article, the  State Committee for National Security (GKNB) opened a criminal case against him, under Article 299 Section 1 of Kyrgyzstan’s criminal code — that is, for “inciting hatred between different ethnic, racial, religious, or regional groups.” (Open Democracy, 2017).

Category of exile: . (Definitions here.)
Alleged affiliation: Journalist.

Which stages experienced: Stage 1   Stage 2   not Stage 3. (Definitions here.)
Date of most serious incident: 2017.
Violence experienced: .

Stage 1 details (accusations/ charges/ Interpol notice/ extradition requests):

Babakulov has been a victim of government intimidation,  in 2003 he was beaten by law enforcement officials who destroyed his equipment (Abazov, 2004).

The family of Babakulov have been subject to intimidation and surveillance since he left the country (IPHR, 2017). This has increased to such an extent that they are now afraid to leave the house due to constant threats.

Despite Babakulov not being in the country, the Kyrgyz authorities have continued to run a campaign of intimidation against him (IPHR, 2017). He has been publicly criticised by President Atambayev (Diplomatic Courier, 2017), whilst some MP's have called for him to lose his citizenship (Ferghana News, 2017). He has also been branded an "enemy of the country" by state news agency OTRK, leading to him becoming a target of numerous death threats (RSF, 2017).


Stage 2 details (arrest/ detention/ extradition):

The GNKB opened a criminal case again Babakulov, declaring his publication "extremist material". They hoped to charge him under Article 299-Section 1 of Kyrgyzstan's criminal code, with a possible imprisonment of seven years. They also blocked access to Ferghana News (Diplomatic Courier, 2017). To avoid what would have ultimately been a show trial, he fled the country in June (Open Democracy, 2017; Human Rights Watch 2018).

International arrest warrant: .

Countries of transit, asylum and/or residence: .

Legal status (refugee/ asylum seeker/ resident):

Babakulov was granted political Asylum in France ( News agency, 2018).

Current status:

Due to the threat of authorities having him extradited back to Kyrgyzstan, he has yet to reveal his location (Diplomatic Courier, 2017; Open Democracy, 2017).

In February 2019 Babakulov has been granted political asylum valid for 10 years, during which, however, he is not allowed to visit Kyrgyzstan or Kyrgyz diplomatic missions around the world (RFE/RL, 2019).

Press sources:

Abazov, R. (2004). Kyrgyzstan. In: A. Motyl and A. Schnetzer, ed., Nations in Transit 2004: Democratisation in East Central Europe and Eurasia. USA: Freedom House, pp.300-330.

Diplomatic Courier (2017). The Press and the New President: A Review of Freedom of Speech in Kyrgyzstan. [online] Diplomatic Courier. Available at: [Accessed 6 Mar. 2018].

Ferghana News (2017). Bishkek: MPs urge to deprive journalist Ulugbek Babakulov of Kyrgyz citizenship - Ferghana Information agency, Moscow. [online] Available at: [Accessed 6 Mar. 2018].

Human Rights Watch (2018). Country Summary- Kyrgyzstan. [online] Available at: [Accessed 6 Mar. 2018].

IPHR (2017). Kyrgyzstan: The Case of Journalist Ulugbek Babakulov, June 2017. [online] Available at: [Accessed 6 Mar. 2018].

Open Democracy (2017). Farewell to Kyrgyzstan’s “island of democracy”. [online] openDemocracy. Available at: [Accessed 6 Mar. 2018].

RFE/RL (2017). Journalist Charged With Inciting Hatred Says He Fled Kyrgyzstan. [online] RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty. Available at: [Accessed 6 Mar. 2018].

RFE/RL (2017). Kyrgyz Journalist Flees Country After Writing About Hate Speech. [online] RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty. Available at: [Accessed 6 Mar. 2018].

RSF (2017). RSF calls for end to prosecutions of Kyrgyz media and journalists | Reporters without borders. [online] Reporters Without Borders. Available at: [Accessed 6 Mar. 2018]. News agency (2018) Journalist Ulugbek Babakulov gets political asylum. [online] Available at:[Accessed 27 Jan. 2019].

RFE/RL (2019) Kyrgyz Journalist ‘Given Political Asylum’ In France. [online] Available at:[Accessed 27 Feb. 2019].