A French filmmaker has been detained in the western Kazakhstan city of Aktau while working on a documentary film on the bloody events in Zhanaozen in 2011.
Galym Ageleuov, president of the Liberty activist group, wrote on his Facebook account that the incident occurred at 9:30 a.m. on September 27, while Vincent Prado was interviewing a witness of the events that took place seven years ago.
Ageleuov said that officers with the migration police took Prado and his translator away to the local station to check their documents.
The detention suggests the authorities are still prickly and anxious about the events of December 2011, when a months-long sit-in protest by oil workers ended in a confrontation that left more than a dozen dead after police opened fire. Authorities have always sought to play down their culpability in instigating the bloodshed and have sought to discourage reporters from embarking on independent investigations.
Ageleuov did not respond to queries from Eurasianet asking for additional details on Prado’s detention.
RFE/RL’s Kazakhstan service, Radio Azattyq, cited migration police as confirming the detention and said officials declined to provide any additional details.
Prado’s translator, Danara Ismetova, told Azattyq that they were both being held at a police station. She also said police were filing a citation against Prado for an unspecified administrative violation.
Ageleuov said the film in production was intended “to explain to people what has changed in the country in the seven years since the oil workers’ strike.” The plan was to once again interview people that had featured in a documentary about Zhanaozen produced by Ageleuov in 2013, two years after the unrest.
“Prado wanted to produce an objective film about our country with all its pluses and minuses, so that the world might know about us and that we might become better,” Ageleuov wrote.
Almaz Kumenov is an Almaty-based journalist.