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Summary of Geldy's Story - December 2006

22nd December 2006
The summary below has just been sent to the Moscow office of the UK's The Daily Telegraph newspaper, with copies to several UK Members of the European Parliament (MEPs).

Added 23rd December 2006: link to article on (Note that it is reported that Geldy confessed on television to crimes, but the article does not fully report the background to this confession.)

The former Horse Minister of Turkmenistan, a world-famous horse breeder, has "disappeared" and possibly been murdered in a Turkmen jail.

The arrest in 2002 of Geldy Kyarizov caused shock waves in the international horse-breeding community. Worldwide appeals for his release have been unsuccessful. Since September 2006 he has been unaccounted for, and his family have just been told that he has died under torture. This remains unverified.

Subscriptions from breeders around the world have kept Geldy's stud of 90 horses alive, although 30 died in the months following his imprisonment.

In 2002 Geldy, who was then Horse Minister for the government of Turkmenistan, was arrested without a warrant by the secret police and held in their detention. He was initially charged with stealing horses from the President’s stables, but an investigation determined that the horses in question were his own property. Then he was charged with mismanaging the duties of his office and convicted to six years imprisonment. Threatened with torture, he appeared on State television admitting his "crimes". During the trial he suffered a heart attack. There is some indication that he may really have been arrested for criticizing the government and its economic policies.

He was then transferred to prison, where he has had great difficulty surviving because of a lack of food, denial of medical care, and the lack of sanitation and severe overcrowding. He has suffered another heart attack plus two strokes. His family has brought him food and medicine when able, but at times has been denied access and visiting privileges. The family has been threatened, molested, harassed, denied work and denied permission to leave the country. They were threatened with eviction from their property at the beginning of the summer.

In September of this year, when Geldy's family visited him in Charzhou prison, they were told by prison officials that he was to be amnestied this autumn, and warned that they must say nothing of this. When they went back in October Geldy was no longer at the prison, and no one would tell them where he was. He was not released as promised.

He has been missing now for three months, and no one will tell the family where he is or if he is still alive. There has been speculation that he was transferred to Ovadan Depe prison (a purpose-built prison for political prisoners, notorious for torture and extrajudicial killing) as a political prisoner. If he is now being treated in fact as a political prisoner it would have to be related to his family’s seeking of outside help (Geldy was mentioned in the Amnesty International 2005 report), or to the recent EU action on the trade agreement (please see*).

On 15th December there was a further horrible development: a man claiming to be from the KNB (former KGB) visited the family and told them that Geldy had died under torture in Ovadan Depe. It is to be hoped that this is false, merely further intimidation; it is most unlikely that such a deed would be admitted if it were indeed fact.

Due to widespread concern among Geldy's friends in the horse-breeding community in the UK (as well as worldwide) the British Embassy in Ashgabat has been giving the family help and support. They are however unable to determine whether Geldy is still alive.

Geldy is the world's leading expert on the Akhal-Teke horse, a rare and very ancient Turkmen racehorse (and formerly warhorse), and his stud comprises the best bloodstock in the world. Subscriptions received from all over the world have enabled Geldy's friends to send fairly regular amounts of money to feed his horses. One of the charges brought against him was that he had stolen his horses – most of which he actually bred himself. Although this charge was dropped, the horses were confiscated for three months and many of them were sent to the Niazov State Stud, where 5 mares and a foal died from starvation and dehydration. The remainder were returned in very poor condition. (See website, with photographs taken by a British Embassy official.) One year after Geldy's arrest, the number of horses at his stud had dropped from 120 to 90. Since then regular donations from the international community of horse breeders have enabled the family to keep the horses alive and in relatively good condition. (Again, see photos on website taken in 2005.)

Incidentally, the horse who is Turkmenistan's state symbol, the famous Yanardag, was bred by Geldy and gifted to President Niazov in 2001.



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