The Australian Embassy in Moscow travelled to Semipalatinsk, Kazakhstan and on Thursday
4 April 2004 met with Noorpolat Abdulla in the presence of Colonel Joldasbekov Bauyrzhan
Askarovich, the Head of Prison OB-156/14, Semipalitinsk, his deputy and another prison
guard. The Colonel advised the Australian Embassy it was not possible to meet Noorpolat
alone because of his status as a maximum security prisoner. Both the Colonel and
Noorpolat's lawyer in Almaty advised the Vice Consul there had been media interest in
Noorpolat's case, and that local TV stations and newspapers had carried some recent reports
of his case
Noorpolat enquired about the possibility of transfer to a prison in Almaty and was told that of
the few maximum security prisons in Kazakhstan, Semipalitinsk was the closest to Almaty
and was the best in terms of conditions for prisoners. Nevertheless, there was a strong
possibility Noorpolat could be transferred within the next three months to a new prison for
foreign prisoners only, which was close to Almaty.
Noorpolat told the Australian Embassy he had negotiated with the prison authorities to allow
him to shower separately from other prisoners on Sundays, as he stated it was against his
religion to shower in public. Noorpolat also said there was a mosque in the prison but he is
only allowed to use it twice a day, whereas his religion calls for prayer five times per day.
On the other occasions, Noorpolat said that he had been obliged to pray by his bed. The
Australian Embassy have now secured permission for Noorpolat to pray in an office separate
from other prisoners, with a guard present to ensure other prisoners did not interfere with his
worship. Noorpolat was reportedly very pleased with this development.
The Australian Embassy was able to deliver a number of items to Noorpolat. These
comprised a large blanket, a kettle, 2 books, a Russian/English dictionary, several English
language newspapers and magazines, a blank diary, stationery, chocolate, and a packet of
dried fruit/nut mix. Items provided by Noorpolat's father comprised 5000 Tenge, shoes,
clothing, dried fruits/nuts and cured Halal meats. Unfortunately, the two books and family
photographs did not arrive in Moscow before the Australian Embassy had left for
Kazakhstan. The Embassy will arrange for these to be onforwarded to Noorpolat in the near
All fruit and vegetables for the prison are provided by the same company that supplies all the
restaurants in Semipalitinsk. Water analysis is carried out by the city Prosecutors Office and
Epidemiology Control Centre two to three times per month. According to the Head of the
Prison, the water pipes are regularly flushed and tap water is safe to drink. Noorpolat stated
that the prison menu is limited and does not meet his dietary needs, as his religion prevents
from eating pork which constitutes a regular part of the prison diet. He has refused to eat in
the food hall with the other prisoners and takes his meals and eats them back in his dormitory.
The prison officials have arranged for a prison guard to purchase and deliver fruit for
Noorpolat who confirmed he had received Halal food parcels from his father.
Contact & Account Details
Mr. N. Abdulla
Republic of Kazakhstan, 490047,
Semipalatinsk, Stalskogo Str., 2
Prison OV 156/14
Prison account details:
Deposit Acc. 000144227
Noorpolat also has a prison bank account, into which deposits may be made for his use at the
Prison canteen to purchase personal hygiene items, extra foodstuffs, stamps and envelopes.
We understand that it is possible to send funds from Australia for deposit to this account.
Mail and supplies
Noorpolat is allowed to receive mail and food items from his family. No particular limits are
stipulated, other than the overall weight factor of 50 Kilograms. See attachment 1 & 2 Rules
of the Prison.
Noorpolat is allowed four telephone calls of 15 minutes each per year, but telephone
privileges are subject to good behaviour on the part of prisoners, and the availability of funds.
A recent request by Noorpolat to make a telephone call had not been granted due to the fact
that there were no funds in his prison account at the time.
Prisoners have the option to work at making felt winter boots and receive payment that
enables them to purchase reasonable quantities of items at the prison shop. Noorpolat told
the Vice Consul that he preferred not to work on the grounds that there was a practice in the
prison in which those prisoners who elect to work are sometimes ostracised by some non-
working prisoners. Noorpolat said he did not wish to get involved in this kind of prison
In regard to Noorpolat's health, he said that he was still having problems with asthma and
maintains this has never been diagnosed by a doctor. He complained of a nagging cough
which he claimed was exacerbated by passive smoking. The Australian Embassy advised
him that according to the advice they had received from the Kazakh Foreign Ministry in
Almaty, a medical examination would be granted, if he requested it.
Noorpolat confirmed that his father had visited him in Semipalitinsk and had stayed
overnight in the separate visitors quarters at the prison.
Noorpolat was unaware that the Supreme Court appeal had been heard and was, naturally,
disappointed to learn it had not been successful. Noorpolat has completed a letter of
clemency which the prison Colonel undertook to have translated into Russian for on
forwarding to the President of Kazakhstan
The Australian Embassy has reported that the prison is similar in terms of facilities to
maximum security prisons in Australia, with the notable exception of sleeping arrangements,
as Noorpolat shares a dormitory with 100 other prisoners. The prison has a TV room, and
English language news is broadcast at 4 p.m. every Sunday. The prison was generally clean,
and some photographs were taken.
The family highlighted concerns about the risk of radiation in the area around Semipalatinsk,
the Australian Embassy took some readings from a personal Geiger counter and obtained
some samples of water from the prison for testing. According to the Science Section at the
British Embassy in Almaty, all Geiger counter readings were within normal limits. The
Australian Embassy in Moscow will arrange for the water samples to be tested. In addition,
the Embassy will arrange for an English language dictionary to be sent to Noorpolat