Deadly interview

28.02.2023 admin

After the annexation of Crimea in February-March 2014, Putin and his propaganda voices assured the world that the Russian military was not involved in this event. The people of Crimea, as they claimed, drove the Ukrainian military off the peninsula and took a voluntarily decision to become part of Russia.

Starting from in the spring of 2014, the Russian media began to speculate about Karakalpakstan’s secession from Uzbekistan, with the possibility of becoming a part of Russia. On July 1-2, last year, the Putin regime organised controlled chaos in Karakalpakstan. The purpose of this action was to push the Uzbek authorities towards an integration processes with Russia. Putin achieved his goal.

Uzbek and Russian media are trying to convince the world that these protests were organized by a couple of local bloggers. This version was completely dispelled by the participant and key witness of the tragedy, Polat Shamshetov. Lieutenant colonel Shamshetov was the Head of the criminal investigation department, Ministry of Internal Affairs of Karakalpakstan.

On January 31 this year, Shamshetov gave an open interview to the Uzbek service of the Voice of America, and presented the real picture of events in Karakalpakstan. For this interview, Polat Shamshetov was murdered: he was found dead in his prison cell, on February 4, 2023. He was 46 years old.

We present an interview given by Polat Shamshetov (hereafter Shamshetov) on January 31, 20223, to Navbahor Imamova from the Uzbek service of the Voice of America (hereafter VOA_Uz).

Shamshetov: I am Polat Davletbaevich. The court verdict has been deliverd. I have committed a crime under part 3 of article 244 of the Uzbek Criminal Code. I have to tell the truth that this offence falls under the category of serious crimes. But thanks to the Prosecutor’s Office, I expected that they would demand 15 years of imprisonment, but the prosecutor asked only for 7. Thanks to the Court – it sentensed me to only 6 years. I thank them, because the crime was classified as a felony. I think this is the sign of attention and concern on behalf of our President towards the people of the Karakalpak origin. He let so many people go, released people sentensed under serious articles. I will serve my sentence, and when I am released I will ask the people’s forgiveness, and then I will make amends.

VOA_Uz: In this group you stood out as a man of the system. Did you work in the system? In the internal affairs system?

Shamshetov: No, I did not. I resigned from my job, but my the resignation letter was not formally accepted. Therefore, I was convicted as a man of the system.

VOA_Uz: Why did you quit?

Shamshetov: I resigned at my own request, because of my senior age.

VOA_Uz: Was your resignation a form of protest against the authorities? Did it come from the dissatisfaction with politics?

Shamshetov: No, no, not at all. I have no complaints against the authorities. I said thank you and I resigned voluntarily. I was not aware of the situation. I was not in Nukus at that time. The truth is, however, that as an officer, I had acted improperly. My guilt was proven. I have no objection against the authorities.

VOA_Uz: So you did act against the system that day! Do you admit it?

Shamshetov: No! According to Article 244(3), I was a participant in the riots. I was not against the system and the constitution.

VOA_Uz: So you are not against the state of Uzbekistan? (journalist laughing)

Shamshetov: Never! How could I… I was born in Uzbekistan, grew up here, lived in it for so many years. My Homeland!

VOA_Uz: Right, but look: those who are watching this trial from other parts of Uzbekistan, they concluded long ago that “these people (the convicts) were trying to do something against Uzbekistan”. What would you like to say to them? Despite the punishment handed down against you today, you went out against Uzbekistan on that day!

Shamshetov: No, look here: a draft law on amending the constitution was passed, right? I saw it too, and as a citizen I printed it out and read it. Having read it, I said to myself: who needs it? The thought crossed my mind… After that, on the 1st (July) I went to the building of Jokargy Kenes (Supreme Soviet) upon my return to Nukus. But there, the issue related to the Constitution was out of the question. The drunks, the mess… Ask anyone there what Article 74 of the Constitution says, they didn’t even open or read a single page of the Constitution. There were people there who didn’t care about the Constitution. There were forces there who took advantage of the moment. That’s for sure.

VOA_Uz: Who are they?

Shamshetov: The security services themselves have already found out who they were.

VOA_Uz: Are these forces inside or outside (the country)?

Shamshetov: I think they are outside the country.

VOA_Uz: Who can it be? There are not many Karakalpaks outside (Uzbekistan).

(Karakalpak activists), you can easily count them on your fingers.

Shamshetov: It is not about Karakalpaks or Uzbeks.

VOA_Uz: Indeed?

Shamshetov: Their aim is to destabilize the situation in the country. As much as we want it or not, we are a developing country. There may be some forces that don’t want to see our success.

VOA_Uz: Despite the fact that you are under arrest, you are talking like the government. Because we often hear these arguments from the authorities: “Some countries are against us…”.

Shamshetov: I will never part with power, even if I am behind the bars. First of all, I was put in very comfortable conditions I didn’t expect anything like this. I was ashamed, it is true. Clean white linen, good food, everyone addressed me with respect. Everyone was saying „Sir”, „Sir” to me.

VOA_Uz: You, a person working in the system, were surprised?

Shamshetov: I was, indeed, surprised.

VOA_Uz: It was not like that before?

Shamshetov: No, I didn’t see anything like this before.

VOA_Uz: So, the system you had known was not like that?

Shamshetov: No, the system I had known earlier was not like that. If this situation had taken place 10 years earlier,  there would have been more convictions, people would have been sentensed to at least 15 to 20 years of punishment, without any attempt to distinguish between them. I can guarantee it!

VOA_Uz: As far as I know, you come from a political family. Your father was the leader of Karakalpakstan. Is it true?

Shamshetov: He was the Head of Jokargy Kenes (Supreme Soviet) during the most difficult times. In 1991-1992, during the collapse of the USSR, he worked as a Head.

VOA_Uz: Did your family have any animosity or anger towards the system in Karakalpakstan?

Shamshetov: Look. My daughter goes to school in Tashkent. My younger daughter is also studying in Tashkent. I married my sister off to an Uzbek, my son-in-law is an Uzbek. I have so many friends among them (Uzbeks). There is no such talk (of hostility and claims)! When someone needs it, through the Internet, they raise passions. And in those years, there were no such things (conflicts) either. Back then, my father wasn’t against (the system) either. Everyone worked according to the law. However, when somebody needs it (interethnic conflict), they start provoking it.

VOA_Uz: What do you want to do next? Will you still ask for more help (leniency) from the president to free yourself?

Shamshetov: First of all, I would like to thank the esteemed president. He got to the heart of the matter, he understood what was going on. Although I am sitting in jail, I know. If he wanted revenge, a lot of people would have been arrested and imprisoned. But he knows and understands everything, he knows everything “to the point”. He has responded in time to all the challenges, he has done well (correctly). So I say thank you, I apologise, of course I apologise. It was my own fault. If he would have given me one chance, he could have given me a chance now… (would have served) the people. But, I have a grievance against the MPs.

VOA_Uz: How old are you now?

Shamshetov: I am 46. I have a problem with our MPs. You wanted to make changes to the law… The Karakalpaks have such a custom. If you go to the auls (villages), there are elders there. If they say “stand”, then everyone (the people, the people) will “stand”. If they (deputies, local authorities) had explained to them (to the elders) the benefits of the constitutional changes, things would have been different. For example, Zukhra Reimova (Chairman of the Jokargy Kenes Committee) came to court yesterday to give evidence. We were waiting, the guys were waiting for someone to come and ask the court for leniency for us, to take us under her guardianship. But instead, she (Zukhra Reimova) started arguing with Dauletmurat (Tazhimuratov) like a market vendor. A deputy should not behave like that.

I am thankful to Aman Tleubayevich (Chairman of Jokargy Kenes of Karakalpakstan – Amanbai Orynbayev), as he also came and addressed the court with the words: They are my citizens, they are my children, if there is an opportunity, do ease their punishment. If the deputies had been on time … I do not want to give  names … we are all guilty … The people are simple, I saw everything with my own eyes, the people did not know what they was doing, then riots broke out – that’s all …

VOA_Uz: Thank you. Take care of yourself.

Shamshetov: You too!