Kazakh Government Critic Says Car Fire Linked To His Articles

ALMATY, Kazakhstan -- A Kazakh scholar known for his online criticism of the government says his car was set on fire by unknown individuals because he publicly expressed his thoughts on the Internet.

History professor Esenghazy Quandyq told RFE/RL on December 14 that arsonists attacked his car overnight, completely destroying the vehicle's interior.

"The cap of the fuel tank was torn off and the outer cover was open. It is obvious that somebody intentionally did it," Quandyq said, adding that a strange sound woke him up at around 2:00 a.m., and when he looked out his window he saw his car, parked in front of his apartment block, in flames.

Quandyq added that he managed to extinguish the fire with his neighbors' help before firefighters arrived.

According to Quandyq, the attack is likely linked to his latest series of online articles in which he questioned Kazakh election laws as the Central Asian nation prepares for parliamentary elections on January 10, 2021.

The Almaty district police department officials told RFE/RL that a probe has been launched into the arson attack.

Earlier in May, a well-known Kazakh human rights lawyer Aiman Omarova said she survived a car fire that started after a brake malfunction, describing it as an attempt to injure her because of her professional activities.

In November 2019, a car belonging to Nurzhan Mukhammedov, a civil rights activist in the southern city of Shymkent, was vandalized by unidentified assailants who left a severed dog’s head inside the vehicle.