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
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
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
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
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 www.geldy.co.uk, 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.