OSCE leadership urged to “pay attention to the activities" of controversial NGO Open Dialog Foundation

Under the auspices of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) the Human Dimension Implementation Meeting 2018 took place in Warsaw (10-21 September).

During a discussion involving delegates from Armenia, Italy, Lithuania, Ukraine, and the United Kingdom focussing on the important and highly relevant topic of the “Cooperation between Government and Civil Society in the post-soviet countries” serious concerns were raised about the growing use of “fake news” by Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) in the pursuit of dubious agendas. 

Evidence of manipulation of political party manifestos and of coercion of individual politicians at European level were discussed at the conference.

Almost inevitably, in such a context, the highly controversial so-called ‘human rights’ NGO, the Warsaw based Open Dialog Foundation (ODF) , which also has offices in Brussels, at the heart of the EU, and where it has been particularly active in both the European Parliament and Commission, dominated the debate.

The ODF recently hit the headlines when the foundation’s president, Lyudmyla Kozlovska, was turned back at Brussels airport after a flight from Kyiv in her native Ukraine having been banned from entering the Schengen zone by the Polish government on the grounds that she is allegedly a threat to the national security of Poland. 

Her foundation has been linked to seditious activities, including a call for Polish citizens to withhold their taxes, issued by Bartosz Kramek, a Polish citizen and head of the ODF management board. Kramek is also the husband of Kozlovska.

The ODF has found itself under the close scrutiny of the Polish authorities for this, and also over serious questions about its sources of funding. ODF has also been implicated in the supply of military equipment into a war zone - the Donbass region of eastern Ukraine.

The conference heard that the ODF is strongly suspected of receiving significant funding from the Kazakhstani fugitive oligarch Mukhtar Ablyazov, who has multiple convictions for fraud in various countries, and who stands accused of embezzling as much as $7.6 billion from Kazakhstan’s BTA Bank, of which he was head. He also has multiple outstanding arrest and extradition warrants in his name. 

Ablyazov 321

Certainly, sanitising the name of Ablyazov (pictured left), who is also under investigation over what appears to be the murder of his predecessor at BTA Bank, Yerzhan Tatishev, initially believed to have been shot in a “hunting accident” until his killer,  Muratkhan Tokmadi made a shocking prison cell confession naming the fugitive oligarch as the instigator of the death. 

Tokmadi related how during several meetings the pair discussed “the elimination of Yerzhan” and how, as he claimed, Ablyazov persuaded him to carry out the murder and how to make it “look like an accidental killing”. 

The issue of fake news is very much in the headlines these days. The conference heard that members of the European Parliament have been subverted by an ODF campaign which presented Ablyazov as a “politically persecuted” individual. Several MEPs signed a letter which called for an Interpol “red notice” against Ablyazov to be lifted, an initiative which was successful.

“This is a subversion of the European Parliament, and an undermining of the power of a law enforcement agency which protects the security of millions of European citizens” one delegate from the UK stated in strong terms.

The charges against Ablyazov were discussed in some detail, and others facing similar charges, and associated with Ablyazov, were named during the conference. Viktor and Ilyas Khrapunov, Bota Jardemalie, Askar Kupesov, and Nail Malyutin were all named publicly. 

“How strange it is that all the so-called political dissidents that ODF represent seem to have convictions for money laundering”, it was noted.

ODF itself has received funding from online gambling companies - a sector that has become synonymous with organised crime and money laundering.

“Perhaps the most worrying aspect of this story is the fact that at a time when the world is seeing a growth in armed conflict, the all important issue of human rights is being undermined by the activities of this shadowy and nefarious foundation”, one journalist present commented to this website. 

Following the conference, delegates unanimously signed a Written Declaration stating that “foundations such as the Open Dialog use the money of their sponsors and distort real information about the human rights situation and try to propagandise (their) biased point of view in countries with a developing civil society. In this regard, constructive cooperation between government and the non-governmental sector can be threatened.”

Delegates called on the OSCE leadership to “pay attention to the activities of the Open Dialog Foundation, which has an ambiguous reputation in the countries of the European Union”.

image: OSCE/Piotr Dziubak

Read also: OSCE leadership urged to “pay attention to the activities" of controversial NGO Open Dialog Foundation

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Gary Cartwright

Gary Cartwright

Gary Cartwright is publishing editor and Brussels correspondent of EU Today.

An experienced journalist and author, he specialises in environment, energy, and defence.

He also has more than 10 years experience of working as a staff member in the EU institutions, working with political groups and MEPs in various policy areas.

In October 2021 POLITICO described Gary as "the busiest man in Brussels!"

He is a of member the Chartered Institute of Journalists, a professional association for journalists, the senior such body in the UK, and the oldest in the world having been founded in October 1884

Gary's most recent book WANTED MAN: THE STORY OF MUKHTAR ABLYAZOV: A Manual for Criminals on How to Avoid Punishment in the EU is currently available from Amazon


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