A bastion of democracy or a haven for criminals?

Kenzhebay Bekturov

We got used to look up to the European countries as to truly democratic states. The history of formation of the European states has a lot of dark spots, but now it would seem unnecessary to pay them any attention. However, if we analyze the relations of Europe with the young states that emerged after the USSR breakdown, it feels like the “flourishing of democracy” has given in to a “return to the past”, to a haven of convicts.

It is already traditional for high public officers charged of corruption crimes to hastily leave the country and emerge in Europe or the USA, declaring themselves “persecuted for allegiance to truly democratic ideals”, “fighters with the totalitarian regime”, et cetera. Among such “runaway Democrats” there are Russian oligarchs, former Central Asian “political stars”, big business tycoons. Here we can remind of Boris Berezovsky, who, in his times (naturally, after he hastily immigrated to Europe for permanent residence), became more popular than the greatest Hollywood stars, or of Akezhan Kazhegeldin, the former Kazakhstani Prime Minister who was convicted in the republic for corruption crimes and gross abuse of power. This constellation of allegedly political immigrants since recently includes the ex-Ambassador of Kazakhstan in Austria, Rakhat Aliev.

All these people have found a cozy and comfortable shelter under the wide wing of Europe, for which (publicly, at least) the human, their rights and freedoms are the highest value. And they keep repeating over and over again that these very same human rights are violated on a regular basis because of authoritarian regimes of current leaders in the former Soviet republics that now are young independent states.

But all this has about it a small but very unpleasant detail – all these “new democrats” and “fighters against the regime”, under a very weird set of circumstances, turn out to be rich people with multibillion fortunes. And they do not live in refugee camps, and do not get welfare payments from the European states. They all have their own mansions, and established businesses bringing steady and high revenues. Unfortunately, we’ve never heard of any poor oppositionist, a real representative of the simple people who’d find refuge in a European country.

At that, Europe prefers not to ask questions about the sources of the new “refugees’” significant fortunes, and even prefers to leave unnoticed the past of the new democrats, who usually were holding high public offices before being charged for criminal offense, and were getting salaries that were high as compared to the local level, but negligible by European standards.

Many of them got their posts as early as in the Soviet times when they changed their spots by switching from partocrats to democrats of the newly formed republics on the tidal wave of perestroika. In fact, if giving it a second thought, many of them look like radish, as Stalin used to say quite wittingly – they are red on the outside and white on the inside, meaning that from the outside they are adepts of ideas that are in vogue today, but inside they still remain old communist bosses of the USSR times.

Europe understands that, too. Still, Europe applies such categories not to the millionaires-cum-officers that have sought refuge in its lands, but exclusively to those who remained faithful to their homeland, criticizing them exactly for the “remaining traces of Socialism in the minds”. At that, discussing the “appropriateness” of the criminal cases related to the pseudo-democrats who found a new haven, the old Europe that always talks about the supremacy of law, considers absolutely unnecessary to take account of the legal norms of other countries, which, by the way, were developed by the new states based on the Western example, and in many respects the norms applicable in that very same Europe were simply carbon-copied.

The European justice, although declaring that the highest value for them is the human rights regardless of the person’s citizenship, and the democratic freedoms, as far as the developing countries are concerned, has chosen a weird policy of selectiveness regarding those who need protection. For instance, declaring that Kazakhstan, by wanting the criminal convict Rakhat Aliev to return to the home country, continues violating his rights of man and citizen, the Austrian judicial system for some reason forgets about millions of Kazakhstani citizens whose rights were violated by Aliev for a long time. After all, the list of charges laid to him by the Kazakhstani court, in addition to corruption contains raiding, extortion, and even abduction and murder. For such “work record” any European court would “award” its own citizen with life imprisonment in the very least. Europe is also nonplussed by the fact that Aliev, while residing in its hospitable lands, keeps on violating the human rights so very much protected in Europe, by placing private life details of the Kazakhstani elite online, uploading even telephone conversation recordings, which is, according to all the European laws, a direct and grossest violation of the human rights – violation of privacy.

The double standards of the European Union can be seen with a naked eye. By undertaking active fight against corruption on its own territory and calling the bribery one of the most serious crimes, the EU is warmly welcoming corrupted officers from the former Socialist camp, shielding them from lawful prosecution.