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2018-03-22 | Terrorism

Kazakhstan begins revoking citizenship of convicted terrorists and militants


Azamat Kazbayev, a resident of Ekibastuz, is shown in a screen shot from an anti-militancy video. He is among 57 Kazakhstanis who will lose their citizenship for participating in the Syrian insurgency. Kazbayev began serving a seven-year sentence in March 2014.

Azamat Kazbayev, a resident of Ekibastuz, is shown in a screen shot from an anti-militancy video. He is among 57 Kazakhstanis who will lose their citizenship for participating in the Syrian insurgency. Kazbayev began serving a seven-year sentence in March 2014.

By Aydar Ashimov

ASTANA -- Kazakhstan has begun proceedings to strip the citizenship of 57 Kazakhstanis convicted of joining terrorists and fighting alongside the "Islamic State" (IS) in Syria and Iraq, according to the government's Anti-Terrorism Centre.

President Nursultan Nazarbayev approved amendments last July allowing the government to revoke the citizenship of Kazakhstanis involved in terrorism.

"This is a response to the growing threat of terrorism," Adilbek Davletov, a lawyer from Astana, told Caravanserai. "Under current law, citizenship may be revoked for performing a terrorist act, creating a terrorist organisation or participating in one."

Kazakhstani authorities could deport terrorist citizens or bar them from entering the country, said Davletov, though it is unclear what countries would accept a stateless deportee.

Kazakhstan apparently has not worked out all the consequences for citizens it renders stateless. For example, it plans to strip the citizenship of Kazakhstani prison inmates doing time for extremism.

The government has not discussed what ex-convicts who lack an "internal passport" -- the primary identification document in post-Soviet countries -- are expected to do regarding employment or housing when they finish their sentences.

Irate citizens support move

Kazakhstanis are expressing support for the measure.

"Of course I support the decision to revoke the citizenship of terrorists," said Astana resident Olga Yugay.

"They disgrace our country, do not support our values and commit serious crimes," she told Caravanserai. "Why should the state protect their rights at the same level as other citizens?"

The problem of terrorists returning from "hot spots" was among the topics during a meeting of Central Asian leaders in Astana March 15.

"After the war with IS in Syria and after their defeat, [Central Asian militants] ... are now returning and we now have to be very vigilant in this matter," Nazarbayev said during discussions that day with the presidents of Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.

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