Boris Shikhmuradov was killed during Niyazov’s presidency

According to data obtained by us from various sources over several years, the former Foreign Affairs Minister of Turkmenistan Boris Shikhmuradov, along with several individuals convicted in connection with the alleged assassination attempt on Niyazov, were shot in prison BL-T/5.

On 25 June 2008, in the city of Turkmenbashi, prison BL-T/5 was demolished in the presence of representatives of diplomatic missions, international organizations and mass media. The Turkmen authorities stated that the crime rate had dropped significantly in the country and there was no longer a need for the aforementioned prison.

Until then this was the only penitentiary facility located on the territory of Turkmenistan where death penalties were carried out during Soviet times. The basement of this facility was specially equipped for these purposes and included death row cells.

Pursuant to the data we have obtained, this is where Boris Shikhmuradov, Yklym Yklymov and a dozen more people, convicted in connection with the alleged assassination attempt on the President of Turkmenistan in 2002, had been transported. This group of convicted persons never left the facility.

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Testimony by Farid Tukhbatullin:

After the events of 25 November 2002 the special services and the police initiated repressions, not only against those who were suspected of being involved in the assassination attempt on Niyazov, but also against selected activists disloyal to the authorities. I was arrested and placed in the pre-detention facility of the National Security Ministry on 21 December 2002. Dovlet Gaiypov was already being held in the cell where I was brought. Two or three days later another iron bed was installed and Yklym Yklymov was accommodated there.

There were no toilets in the cells, and twice a day we were accompanied to the toilet located in the opposite end of the corridor. In late December two soldiers with rifles appeared by the door of the cell which was adjacent to the toilet. Before that the guards had been equipped with rubber truncheons and electric shockers. We concluded that Shikhmuradov had been arrested. A day later a soldier who helped us to deliver meals (and always asked Dovlet for cigarettes) confirmed our speculation and said that Boris Shikhmuradov was being kept in that cell.

In early January court hearings began. My fellow inmates were sentenced to very lengthy imprisonment terms � Yklym to life imprisonment and Dovlet to 20 years in prison.

After the sentencing a convict is given 10 days and then he is deported. The formalities were observed. Approximately on 20 January Yklym was taken out of the cell with his belongings. Later the same day in the evening Dovlet was collected. They were convinced that they would be moved to a new prison in Ovan-Depe.

The next morning when I was escorted to the toilet I saw that feedboxes (openings in the doors of a cell used to pass in meals to inmates) in some cells were taped with white paper with stamps and signatures. Apparently they were allowed to be opened only in the presence of responsible officers. Apart from the NSM guards, officers from the Interior Ministry and the Prosecutor's office were assigned there. There were five such cells, including the cell where B. Shikhmuradov was held (riflemen were still stationed there).

During one of the following days, when going along the corridor, I recognized a mug and a bowl which belonged to Yklym. Before lunch and dinner the inmates handed over their tableware to the soldiers, which was put in front of the cell doors. Another group of soldiers put food and poured tea in them. Then a soldier opened the feedbox and handed all of these into the cell.

I understood that Yklym had not been sent to Ovan-Depe and the others sentenced to life imprisonment were still being kept there, in the pre-trial detention facility.

This happened before the evening of 2 April 2003, when I was pardoned pursuant to the personal Presidential decree (as of 01.04.2003), and released.

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Testimony by source A (we have the name of this individual):

� Now I cannot recall the precise year, maybe 2003 or 2004. My brother who was employed as a guard in the prison located in Krasnovodsk (many by force of habit use the old name of the city of Turkmenbashi) said that traitors had been brought to the prison and for this reason security had been tightened and additional fences had been built.

Testimony by source B � the former NSM officer (we have the name of this individual):

� In November 2005 the inmates kept in BLT-5 were convoyed to the Ovan-Depe prison. Before convoying those, serving their sentences in this prison, there were three lists (categories). The convicts from these lists were subject to being placed in different carriages of the specially designated railroad train deigned to transport convicts. Prisoners from the first two lists were kept in ordinary prison cells whereas individuals from the third list including B. Shikhmuradov, B. Beknazarov, G. Jumaev, N. Orazgeldyev, I. Iklymov, D. Annageldiev, T. Jumaev, D. Gaipov and 9 more people (a total of 17) were kept in the cells located in the basement of the prison where those under death sentence had been previously accommodated. Nobody from these cells had been convoyed to the train carriages.

This evidence is indirectly confirmed from other sources as well.

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Comment

Prisons (there are two facilities there � one for penitentiary regime and the second is the maximum security prison) were specially built far away from residential areas in Ovan-Depe in 2004 and were initially designed to accommodate those convicted for serious crimes. In early 2004 the first inmates were accommodated in the maximum security colony and in 2005 inmates from a similar colony (BL-T/5) were transferred to the penitentiary regime colony, which had been previously located in the city area in Turkmenbashi (formerly, Krasnovodsk). In late 2005 all prisoners kept in BL-T/5 were transferred to the Ovan-Depe prison, which at that time had also been referred to as BL-T/5. In 2012 it was renamed AN-T/2 of Akhal police department (the first two letters denote the regional location of the facility).

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Testimony: On 26 September 2007, during his speech at Columbia University (USA), when asked Are B. Shikhmiradov and B. Berdyev alive? the President of Turkmenistan G. Berdymukhammedov answered: � As regards the two persons you are asking me about, I am convinced that they are alive.

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Conclusions

Boris Shikhmuradov, and some other individuals convicted in connection with the assassination attempt on the President of Turkmenistan S. Niyazov in November 2002, died in prison BL-T/5 within the period from April 2003 to November 2005. For the time being it is impossible to determine a more precise date.

BL-?/5 was demolished, not because the crime rate had dropped. As we have reported in the account devoted to penitentiary facilities, three weeks prior to the demolition (June 2008) the prison accommodated three times as many inmates for which it was designed. At present, the penitentiary facilities of Turkmenistan accommodate three times as many inmates as their estimated capacity.

The basement facilities of the prison were exploded and the walls were demolished in order to destroy any evidence of the crimes committed by the country's authorities. The fact that this prison, rather than any other penitentiary facility, was demolished only proves this.

A representative of the campaign Show them alive made the following statement at the briefing during the 119th session of the UN Human Rights Committee on 6 March 2017: the authorities failed to provide any response to the opinion of the UN Human Rights Committee in October 2014 in the case of former Foreign Minister Boris Shikhmuradov and respond to statements by the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances. In their responses to the list of questions asked by the Committee against Torture in August 2016, the government ignored all questions which pertained to those who disappeared in prisons.

Source: Chronicles of Turkmenistan