Cruelty to animals has hit the headlines in Kazakhstan following the arrest of a young man for demonstrating his wrestling technique on a donkey.
This is the latest in a series of stories of abuse of animals – ranging from donkeys and dogs to wolf and bear cubs – that have caused public consternation.
Video of the man hurling the donkey over his head and onto the ground appeared online in early November, prompting police to launch an investigation after an outcry among social media users.
Police later arrested two unidentified suspects, a 19-year-old man and his accomplice, who was behind the video camera. The latter can be heard on the film screaming with laughter and making comparisons with “kures” — the traditional Kazakh sport of wrestling — as the donkey is thrown into the air and makes several hard landings onto its back and its head.
The two Almaty residents will face charges of cruelty to animals, police spokeswoman Zhanar Tolegenkyzy said in remarks broadcast by Khabar TV on November 9.
This is not first story involving animal abuse to hit the headlines in Kazakhstan of late.
In July, four men were arrested after appearing in a video showing them torturing some wolf cubs that they had caught. One attempted to decapitate one of the new-borns with a spade.
The four were arrested and tried after the online publication of the film caused an outcry. However, they escaped a possible three-month jail term and were sentenced instead to community service, according to the Informburo.kz website.
There have also been recent reports of adolescents in Aktau in western Kazakhstan abusing stray puppies by cutting off their ears and tails and sharing the video on the WhatsApp messenger service, and of children outside Almaty using dogs as footballs.
Last year, Kazakhstan was outraged by a report that staff at a zoo in Karaganda had hurled a sickly bear cub into a jaguar pen, where it was eaten alive by the wild cats in full view of visitors.
Journalists with the TengriNews website decided to test the waters on attitudes to animal cruelty by staging a mock incident in Almaty involving canine abuse.
For the experiment, a young man stood on a busy street in Almaty yelling into his cell phone threats to kill or abandon a pet dog he had been given to look after. Meanwhile, a recording of the supposed four-legged friend whining piteously sounded out of a bag wrapped in black plastic by the man’s feet, to which he gave the occasional kick.
The resulting video, posted by Tengri News on November 11, shows most passers-by walking past the shocking scene without a second glance, until finally a young man walking his dog intervenes to prevent the animal abuse.