Turkmen Political Prisoner Allamurat Korhanov Sentenced for Alleged Incident Seven Years Ago

Turkmen.news has obtained a copy of the judgment in the case of Turkmen activist Allamurat Korhanov, who was sentenced in 2021 to four years’ imprisonment. When the news first emerged, we declared that the case against him had been fabricated, and the copy of the judgment only reinforces our view. Korhanov was convicted over an alleged fight that occurred seven years before the case was opened. Moreover, the victim does not even remember the details of the dispute and has long since forgiven his assailant. The activist supposedly also committed fraud, which is a favorite charge used by the Turkmen special services to punish undesirables. And it is the Ministry of National Security in the person of Deputy Minister Orazgeldi Meredov who framed Allamurat Korhanov.

Court verdict against Turkmen activist Allamurat Korhanov

The judgment of the Garagum district court in Mary region says that in early August 2014 (the exact date is not given) in his home village of Erez in Garagum district Korhanov asked his acquaintance Tagan Goturov to repay a debt of 60 manats. Goturov said that he would return the money when he received 100 manats for pasturing cattle. This allegedly angered Korhanov, who started to swear and hit the debtor several times. As a result, according to the investigation, Goturov received a closed fracture of the clavicle (collarbone) and tore the ligaments of the acromioclavicular joint.

According to the case materials, realizing he had caused his opponent a serious injury, Korhanov took him home and asked his own mother to help Goturov. In court his mother said that Tagan had told her at that time that he had simply fallen over. She found out about the fight with her son only during the investigation in 2021. Be that as it may, Korhanov’s mother used a folk remedy, applying a compress of raw egg to the injured shoulder. Goturov did not go to a doctor or the police.

Only in July 2021 (seven years after the event!) was a legal medical assessment conducted and signs of the healed fracture discovered. Tagan Goturov emphasized in court that he had completely forgiven Allamurat Korhanov.

No one could have imagined that this incident, if it ever happened, would one day be cause to open a criminal case. This bears the hallmarks of Turkmenistan’s Ministry of National Security: whenever an activist is caught (Korhanov sent videos to the opposition movement DWT) someone is found to write a complaint about the activist. The special services pulled the same stunt with Gaspar Matalaev, Nurgeldi Halykov, and Hursanay Ismatullaeva.

Fraud featured in all these cases. It’s one of the favorite articles of the Criminal Code used by Turkmenistan’s special services to punish undesirables. It was also used as a second charge against Allamurat Korhanov, as the special services must have thought the fabrication about a fight seven years ago would be too obvious.

In early January 2020, according to the case material, a B.Y. Yazmuhammedova went to see Korhanov and said she wanted to go to work in Turkey. Korhanov allegedly replied that he knew someone who could help. The woman paid him 14,000 manats for this service, but did not make the journey. Yazmuhammedova demanded that Korhanov return the money, but he gave her only 2,200 manats. Then she wrote a complaint about him (the case material does not show the exact date) after which Korhanov’s relatives returned the outstanding sum to her.

This seemed to be the end of the disagreement. But the National Security Ministry had not looked for “victims” so that the court could let everyone go home. It’s worth noting that, in addition to fraud, the case also includes the articles of Turkmenistan’s Criminal Code concerning “Giving bribes” and “Receiving bribes,” but work on these was terminated and the charges dropped. Is a Turkmen court really the most humane in the world?

The answer is simple actually. Allamurat Korhanov was facing a much longer term than he received for these “crimes.” He was given a choice: either a long term, or admission of guilt in causing moderately severe bodily harm plus fraud. He chose the latter, and on September 8, 2021 the then judge of Garagum district court, Dovran Hojamyradov, pronounced the sentence: four years in an ordinary penitentiary.

Let us repeat once more: this run-of-the-mill criminal case was fabricated by Turkmenistan’s Ministry of National Security and personally by Deputy Minister Orazgeldi Meredov. It was Meredov who led the cases of Nurgeldi Halykov, Murat Dushemov, Hursanay Ismatullaeva, and other activists. Doctor Ismatullaeva’s trial took place on September 7, 2021, exactly one day before Allamurat Korhanov’s. She was given nine years in a penitentiary for trying to stand up for her employment rights, but was pardoned within a year. Evidently, the fact that she is a woman and a doctor who defended her own rights, and did not make a video or forward photographs, played its part.

All the other aforementioned activists are still in the penitentiary, though other prisoners sentenced under the same articles have been released at every amnesty. But in reality Korhanov and all the other people are political prisoners serving sentences not for what is written in their judgments, but for their active participation in opposition chat groups, careless comments on the Internet, contacts with foreign media, and other similar “misdemeanors.”

In May 2023 Korhanov, together with Halykov, Dushemov, and Murat Ovezov, managed to pass on a letter addressed to the UN Representative Office in Turkmenistan. The prisoners requested a meeting with UN employees in person. The letter said: “We were put under psychological and physical pressure while criminal cases were falsified. At present we are illegally incarcerated in penitentiary LB-E/12. This was not the end of the lawless behavior against us. Our rights are still being infringed. Not only have we been illegally deprived of our freedom, we are also refused the meetings and telephone conversations with our families that are our legal entitlement.”

The UN resident coordinator in Turkmenistan, Dmitry Shlapachenko, practically refused to respond to this appeal. He told turkmen.news that he was discussing the issue with his management and that he had no comments for the press. There have been no reports since then on progress in considering the appeal.  

Turkmen.news has learnt that a new prisoner, Malikberdi Allamuradov, has arrived at the LB-E/12 penitentiary. He studied in Russia and kept a video blog, but in 2021 held a one-man picket in Elista, the capital of Kalmykia, against restrictions on converting hard currency imposed by Turkmen banks. In 2023, he was being harassed and hid at his friend’s parents’ country house near Moscow. He was practically kidnapped from there and sent to Turkmenistan, where he was immediately sentenced to detention allegedly for fighting with a homeless man when they were both in the temporary detention facility. As can be seen, the special services not only refuse to release current political prisoners, but keep fabricating new criminal cases as well.