correspondence recent news Turkmenistan

Letter to Andrey Zatoka’s Children

A letter from Andrey Zatoka’s wife to their children, following the trial in Dashovuz, Turkmenistan, October 29, 2009. Andrey’s children are living in Russia, where they are university students.

Sentence from the Judge is Five Years

Dear Katia and Vania,

You can be proud of your father. He handled himself calmly and assuredly. When they led him from the car, he smiled and joked. In the courtroom, he asked the judge to hold the proceedings in Russian. Part of it was held in Turkmen, and they translated for him. He asked questions (from the cage!) to the “victim” and to witnesses, raising, together with his lawyer, 7-9 petitions, most of which were refused.

They refused a petition to delay the hearing until November 4—according to the law, no less than three days should go by between the charge of guilt and the court hearing, not including weekends and holidays.

The main thing is that they refused the petition (although it was raised more than once) to repeat the legal medical expertise. Andrey certified to A. Kazakov that his broken arm was from May, when he had a fight with his neighbor, and that the x-ray was also from then.

They refused the petition to call witnesses—bread sellers, who saw the BEGINNING of the incident. ALL the witnesses who were called saw only the end of the fight. Andrey said that the two policemen closely followed him around the bazaar, and that direct shadowing has been happening to him for the past several years. That anonymous letters about him had been written to a number of state departments, that the verification of those anonymous letters had not been confirmed, but nevertheless, the security police continued shadowing him. He said that he did not know what this was connected to. He could only suggest it might be coming from headquarters.

He was very calm. But, he understood that all his arguments were fruitless. In his closing speech he said that, having studied eastern philosophy and reiki, he could not hold any malice or resentment toward A. Kazakov or the witnesses. He was devoid of all violence. And he underscored that yesterday was a good holiday—the Day of Independence for Turkmenistan, and that he understood that the most important thing for the judge was that he be fair and independent (something like that –it is hard to remember precisely).

He listened to the verdict calmly and with understanding.