Kuvatov [Quvatov], Umarali

Gender: .
State of concern: .

Who, Why and How exiled:

From 2001 to 2012 Kuvatov was in cooperation with Shamsullo Sokhibov, the son in law of the President Imomali Rakhmon, who worked on shipment of fuel to the NATO base in Afghanistan. Kuvatov claims that his shares in these businesses were taken by Shamsullo Sohibov by force. Kuvatov fled from what he claimed was an imminent arrest by the Tajik authorities in the summer of 2012 and lived in Moscow for about four months. During this period, Kuvatov founded Group 24 and announced his intention to take part in presidential elections. His vociferous criticism of the Central Asian country's veteran ruler earned him a significant digital following on video-sharing sites such as YouTube, as well as Platforma, the largest Tajik-moderated public page on Facebook (Global Voices,  2013).

Category of exile: . (Definitions here.)
Alleged affiliation: Group of 24, New Tajikistan.

Which stages experienced: Stage 1   Stage 2   Stage 3. (Definitions here.)
Date of most serious incident: 2015.
Violence experienced: .

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

Faced general charges including "economic crimes" and "extremism", which appeared to be politically motivated (Amnesty International, 2015).

On the 9th October 2014 Tajikistan declared Group 24 an extremist organisation (Asia-plus,  2014).

Kuvatov told Amnesty International that he and his family had received threats, as well as being told by sympathisers that there had been "orders" to harm them, allegedly by the highest levels of Tajikistan's authorities. (Amnesty International,  2015).

Stage 2 details (arrest/ detention/ extradition):

In December 2012 he was detained in Dubai at the request of the Tajikistani government, and expected to be extradited in early 2013 (Asia-Plus, 2013).

However, Kuvatov was released in September 2013, after being pardoned by Dubai. In 2013, in Bishkek, Kuvatov applied for international protection under the UNHCR and his case is still pending.

Kuvatov lived in Turkey from July 2014 (AHRCA, 2015).  He entered Turkey on a passport in someone else's name, explaining that it was the only way to avoid his arrest on departure from Bishkek. Kuvatov registered with the UNHCR Office in Istanbul, but he did not register with the Turkish police, which lead to a violation of administrative law of Turkey.

In October 2014 he publicly called on Tajikistanis to gather for a political protest on the 10th of October. However, no one showed up to the protests after Tajikistan authorities had blocked websites and deployed armoured vehicles (The Economist, 2015).

On 19 December 2014, Kuvatov was arrested by the Turkish secret service, following an anonymous call. On the 3rd February 2015 he was released in accordance with the decision of an administrative court on a condition that he had to leave Turkey in one month’s time. A week before his death he was granted a temporary permission to stay in Turkey legally (AHRCA, 2015).

Stage 3 details (attack/ abduction/ rendition/ torture/ assassination/ death):

Kuvatov was shot dead in Istanbul on March 2015, after he and his family were poisoned. The family survived the poisoning. Three Tajik citizens were arrested including the man who had hosted Kuvatov and family for dinner (Radio Free Europe 2015).

International arrest warrant: .

Countries of transit, asylum and/or residence: , , , .

Current status:

Whilst Kuvatov was not considered a major threat to President Imomali Rahmon’s administration, his death has sparked talk of a government crackdown (Global Voices, 2015).

Press sources:

Global Voices, 'Tajikistan: Opposition Leader Kidnapped?', 26th March 2013. https://globalvoicesonline.org/2013/03/26/tajikistan-opposition-leader-kidnapped/ (Last accessed on the 13th April 2016)

Asia-Plus, 'Umarali Quvvatov reportedly freed from Dubai detention facility', 26th September 2013. http://news.tj/en/news/umarali-quvvatov-reportedly-freed-dubai-detention-facility (Last accessed on the 13th April 2016)

Asia-plus, 'The Tajik Supreme Court declared the "Group of 24" extremist', 9th October 2014.[Online] Available at http://news.tj/ru/news/verkhovnyi-sud-tadzhikistana-obyavil-gruppu-24-ekstremistskoi/

Eurasianet, 'Tajikistan: What’s Behind Government’s Heavy-Handed Protest Response?' 14th October 2014.[Online]. Available at: http://www.eurasianet.org/node/70436 http://news.tj/en/news/umarali-quvvatov-expected-be-extradited-tajikistan-soon

Global Voices, 'Tajik Dissident's Murder Rattles Opposition' 16th March 2015.[Online]. Available at:  https://iwpr.net/global-voices/tajik-dissidents-murder-rattles-opposition

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 'Three Arrested As Tajik Opposition Tycoon Buried In Istanbul', 9th March 2015.[Online]. Available at: http://www.rferl.org/content/slain-tajik-opposition-tycoon-to-be-buried-in-istanbul/26889471.html

Amnesty International, 'Tajikistani dissenters at grave risk after an opposition leader shot dead in Turkey', 6th March 2015. [Online]. Available at:  https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2015/03/tajikistan-opposition-leader-shot-dead-in-turkey/

RBK, 'Таджикский Немцов: за что в Стамбуле убили Умарали Кувватова', 6th March, 2015.[Online]. Available at:

AHRCA 2015. Turkey: Leader of the Tajik opposition Umarali Kuvatov murdered in Istanbul. [Online]. Available at: https://ahrca.eu/tadjikistan/refugees/782-turkey-leader-of-the-tajik-opposition-umarali-kuvatov-murdered-in-istanbul [Accessed :22 May,2018]

The Economist  (2015). Tajikistan's opposition Shaken and stirred. March 10, 2015 [Online].Available at: https://www.economist.com/news/2015/03/10/shaken-and-stirred [Accessed: 22 May, 2018]