OSI Statement in Support of Evgeniy Zhovtis

The Open Society Institute is saddened to learn of the tragic road traffic accident which resulted in the death of Kanat Moldabayev on July 26 of this year. We would like to convey our sympathy firstly to Mr. Moldabayev’s family and also to Evgeniy Zhovtis.

Evgeniy Zhovtis is a trusted and reputable advocate for human rights, the rule of law, and democratic development in Kazakhstan. Over the years he has been a valued friend and colleague of the Open Society Institute—as a former chair of the board of Soros Foundation Kazakhstan and a current board member of OSI’s Central Eurasia Project. Soros Foundation Kazakhstan highly values its cooperation with Kazakhstan’s International Bureau for Human Rights that Evgeniy Zhovtis heads.

It is in the spirit of the values and standards to which Zhovtis is devoted, that we wish to convey our hope that Zhovtis will enjoy full rights in accordance with the law of Kazakhstan and international conventions to which Kazakhstan is party. His position as a leading rights defender does not entitle him to have any fault on his part overlooked. Nor should it result in any attribution of fault or harsher treatment than is warranted by the evidence.

Background

Evgeniy Zhovtis was chair of Soros Foundation Kazakhstan from 1999 to 2002; he is the recipient of many international awards for his work. An outspoken advocate for human rights in Kazakhstan (including freedom of religion and assembly, electoral reform), Zhovtis also actively participates in various government commissions bringing his expertise and insights as a human rights activist. He was involved in an accident on July 26 during which a young pedestrian was killed.