Two minutes on Google could have saved Andrea Vance’s reputation

hager and vance

Canon Media Award-winning ‘journalist’, Andrea Vance, continued her Panama Papers hit job attacked a New Zealand lawyer in her stories, attacking them for working with an allegedly “corrupt” Kazakh politician.

In Panama, they have realised that Kazhegeldin is a “politically exposed person.” Their research revealed his role in a corruption scandal in the central Asia country. After three years as Prime Minister, Kazhegeldin had resigned in 1997 and fled his home country. He was then accused of tax evasion and using stolen funds to buy property in Belgium.

Four years later, in his absence, he was convicted of abuse of office by a Kazakh court – including charges that he took bribes from a mining company and received a Mercedes and Toyota car.

However if she had bothered to spend just two minutes on Google she would have found out that she is in fact attacking the good guy from Kazakhstan, and far from hiding his house he in fact lives there and is on the electoral roll at that address.

Even Red Radio has provided some balance to the original story, by looking into the role of the current President and dictator of Kazakhstan in smearing anyone who opposed the President. Allegations that Andrea Vance used to try and smear New Zealand and Kiwi based lawyers acting legally.

A quick check of Wikipedia might also have alerted Andrea Vance to her wrong-headed hit job.

Akezhan Kazhegeldin (Kazakh: Әкежан Мағжанұлы Қажыгелдин, Qazaq: Äkejan Mağjanulı Qajıgeldïn; born on 27 March 1952) served as the Prime Minister of Kazakhstan until he resigned in October 1997, ostensibly for health reasons, though many saw it as an act protesting authoritarianism in Kazakhstan. He now heads the Republican People’s Party of Kazakhstan, but lives in the West in exile. Adam Albion of Radio Free Europecharacterized Kazhegeldin’s efforts at democratizing Kazakhstan as “defiant, confrontational, and openly scornful of the idea” that Nursultan Nazarbaev, the President of Kazakhstan, “will ever share power willingly.”

Digital Freedom Networkcredits Kazhegeldin’s Prime Ministership with establishing a “stable currency, bank system, and privatization programs that led to growth. He worked at attracting foreign investment, and helped to lay groundwork for a stock market.”

He is included by Fair Trials organisation as an example of persecution of political refugees along with Benazir Bhutto of Pakistan:

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In 2003 Senator John McCain wrote a letter in support of Kazhegeldin to Secretary of State Colin Powell regarding human rights abuses in Kazakhstan. The letter highlights specific concerns in the areas of free speech, free political expression, and harassment of independent media.

In June 2002 Akezhan Kazhegeldin, the leader of the Kazakh Republican People’s Party and former prime minister from 1994 to 1997, received a Passport of Freedom from the European Parliament.

By issuing this honorary document to a “prominent opposition figure,” the European Union says it intends to show its support for the democratic opposition in Kazakhstan, as well as anyone who is being persecuted for their political views in the country.

Kazhegeldin, who is currently living in self-imposed exile in Europe, expressed his satisfaction to RFE/RL. “This document was given to me, but I think, and it has already been said by several members of the [European] Parliament, that, although I have received this passport, it has not been only given to me but also to all the democrats in Kazakhstan, to all our comrades and colleagues there in Kazakhstan. I think this is a clear answer to their questions: What is going to happen with us? What will be achieved? Does anyone cares about us?” Kazhegeldin said.

Kazhegeldin was sentenced in absentia to 10 years’ hard labor in September on charges of abuse of office, tax evasion, taking bribes, and illegal possession of weapons. The opposition has called the trial a farce, while the office of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe in Kazakhstan has expressed doubt that the sentence conforms to international standards of justice.

Sharip Omarov, chairman of the Committee on International Affairs, Defense, and Security of the lower chamber of Kazakhstan’s parliament (Mazhilis), declined to comment on the event. Omarov said it is too early to speak about democratic institutions in his country. “We are not members of the European Parliament. We don’t have direct relations with the European Parliament. We are not part of Europe. We can’t be part of Europe because they would not accept us. We are part of Eurasia, closer to Asia,” Omarov said.

Ari Vatanen, a Finnish member of the European Parliament, is at the origin of the European Parliament’s decision. He told RFE/RL that Kazhegeldin is the 27th person to receive a Passport of Freedom, adding that such a document has to be signed by 15 members of the parliament belonging to different political affiliations.

Kazhegeldin’s Passport of Freedom has notably been signed by former president of the European Parliament, Spain’s Jose Maria Gil-Delgado; by French writer and member of the Convention for the Future of Europe, Olivier Duhamel; and by German president of the Commission on Foreign Affairs at the parliament, Elmar Brok.

Vatanen said this “strong move” is a clear message to “ordinary citizens” and the leadership in Central Asia that the EU is committed to “basic values” of humanity, democracy, and human rights. “At the parliament, we don’t take a stand who should be the leader of a country. We just support those profound values and Kazhegeldin is in Kazakhstan the figure who meets our criteria. And we believe that it will encourage Kazhegeldin in his work to promote these basic values. And also it gives the hope not just to him and people around him but people in Kazakhstan and people in Central Asia,” Vatanen said.

Just a couple of minutes on Google could have saved Andrea Vance some considerable embarrassment. She is supposedly a Canon Media Award-winning investigative journalist, but it seems since working with Nicky Hager, that she has put all that aside and instead prefers working on shabbily researched political hit jobs, in this instance on behalf of a dictator who likes to frame his political opponents.

The Radio NZ piece launched in conjunction with TVNZ makes spurious allegations about Kazhegeldin, by using emotive terms such as “politically exposed”. Of course he is politically exposed, he is the victim of a framing by a dictator who seeks to silence and erase his political opponents and uses false accusations and corrupt legal processes to do that. This is why you utilise trust mechanisms, to protect yourself. Just like Nicky Hager uses trusts to stop people suing him for defamation.

It is sad that two media organisations have fallen under the spell of Nicky Hager and his seven intellectual dwarves and attacked the good guy in all of this.

No wonder people are so distrustful of journalists when this is what the “best” offer up for investigative journalism.


– RadioNZ


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