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Maksat Kakabaev and Murad Ovezov have been released from further imprisonment and are now at home. Kakabaev resides in Ashgabat whereas Ovezov lives in the city of Mary.
According to one source, they were released on 18 February during the act of pardon timed to coincide with the Day of State Flag of Turkmenistan whereas according to another version, they were released on 23 February, i.e. after the holiday celebrated on 19 February.
Both singers of modern Turkmen songs were detained in January 2011 and convicted in February 2011. A human rights organization “Amnesty International” acknowledged them as prisoners of consciousness and believed that their conviction was politically motivated and that the singers suffered from their creative work.
In particular, one of Maro’s songs (Maksat Kakabaev’s stage name) was titled “Wake up, wake up!”, and was perceived by the authorities as a political appeal towards the population to oppose the regime.
For two years, when the singers were serving their sentence in the colony, many human rights organizations made efforts to release them. Their names were included in press releases, reports and statements published by human rights defenders. Thanks to these campaigns intergovernmental organizations paid attention to the fate of Maksat Kakabaev and Murad Ovezov, and repeatedly contacted the Turkmen government calling on to release the innocent.
We are glad that the international campaign designed to protect popular Turkmen singers was a success. At the same time, the fate of M. Kakabaev’s relatives, who were convicted together with him, remains unknown.