A couple from West Kazakhstan city of Akyubinsk moved to Kyiv hastily in 2014, just before the court ruled to arrest journalist Natalia Sadykova.
Aidos and Natalia Sadykov
He is an opposition activist, she is an independent journalist; currently, they are running the YouTube channel «Base».

Photo taken from Facebook account.
At that time, the woman wrote materials for a very popular opposition website «Respublika» (the authorities forced it to close down in 2016).

The ex-member of parliament, Maral Itegulov, who became a successful businessman, filed a police report against Sadykova as he thought she and the author using pseudonym «Bakhyt Iliasova» were one person. The reason was the article «Not enough tenders for all», which the ex-MP considered defamatory. Natalia's husband became a prominent public figure by that time. He was the leader of the regional branch office of «Azat» opposition party, was establishing the independent trade union at oil producing Chinese company «SNPS-Aktobemunaigaz», organised protest actions, tried to create a protest movement «Gastat» (brass knuckles), published his materials in the existing opposition press.

Back in 2003, Aidos Sadykov was placed into a mental health clinic because he was found guilty, without evidence, of allegedly throwing a fork at a waiter in 1999 in the state of mental insanity.
In July 2010, he was put into a penal colony for two years on a charge of hooliganism. An unknown citizen attacked him first near his house and the police officers, who emerged near him, beat up the oppositionist. Despite the available video of what happened, the court found Sadykov guilty of attacking the passer-by and of resistance to police officers.

The Sadykovs became the first Kazakhstan political emigrants in Ukraine, at least prominent in their country. A few months later after they moved into the apartment, some unknowns broke into their apartment and called themselves police officers. They demanded from Aidos Sadykov to stop writing posts criticising the administration of Kazakhstan, otherwise they threatened to deport him and his family. The police of Kyiv did not investigate the incident.

While in Kyiv, the Sadykovs created a YouTube channel unique for Kazakhstan, Base («Oh, my!»), whose correspondents were ordinary people of Kazakhstan. Currently, «Base» is probably the most popular YouTube channel dedicated to socio-political life in Kazakhstan.

On November 14, 2020, «Base» together with the initiative to create the opposition Democratic party became the co-organiser of the rally in Almaty demanding to boycott the upcoming parliamentary election without participation of the opposition and to release political prisoners.
«I was in Kyiv first in 1987, and then in early 2000s. I also was here in the Soviet period,» Aidos Sadykov, who considers Kyiv a dear place, said. Why Ukraine?

«First, Maidan just happened then; second, I had to have a visa to enter some western countries, so we decided that post-Maidan Ukraine was a good place to live and work,» he said.

As the situation in the Sadykovs family did not raise questions of migration agencies and all information about them was available in open sources, it took them six months to get the status of refugees. So, the Sadykovs not only made the path for other persecuted activists, but also became the first political refugees from Kazakhstan in Ukraine. They didn't have any claims to the refugee status procedure, and the Ukrainian human rights organisation, «Right to protection», helped them a lot:

«The problem arises only when applicants submit unreliable information. They say as if they opposed the regime, carried out the opposition activity, but in fact they are not related to the opposition or they are prosecuted for crimes. In this case, once you lie to them, you create problems because you will have to wait for the repeated procedure and then explain why you lied,» Aidos Sadykov said.Nevertheless, once they felt nervous when a group of rugged men broke into the rented apartment of the oppositionists before they received the refugee status.

Aidos Sadykov
Opposition activist
In 2018, they [two unknowns in civilian clothes] came here and tried to enter our house. They pretended to be police officers. In fact, these strong guys threatened us (we recorded them on video and posted it on the «Base» channel) and told us to stop writing on Facebook, otherwise, they threatened to deport us. They were looking like Europeans, but I can't say for sure where they were from. They were not Kazakhs. But they might be Europeans from Kazakhstan.

There's one thing you should understand, they crack down on you only if they have a reason for it. I have been for 18 years in opposition, since 2002. I thought they abandoned this idea a long time ago. Network attacks… these things happen frequently, fake news, etc. This is a common practice for all.
Aidos Sadykov
opposition activist
His family was never threatened anymore, or bribed. After all, the former motherland represented by authorised persons has never again tried to affect the life of the Sadykovs, at least, visibly.

It was not easy to live on with two children. However, their acquaintances or human rights funds helped them from time to time. Now, according to Aidos, their family has no financial problems, although they do not have their own apartment so far.
«Technically, we do what we used to do, i.e. we carry out opposition activity, opposition journalism, so we did not look for other jobs. In other words, we planned to do the same but in some other location. YouTube gives special options, lets you earn, but it is unstable in general. Thanks God, we earn a living. The people, our activists who are abroad can help in case of difficulty».
Moreover, his work allows him to keep track of all events in the country he used to live in.

«I contact many people and communicate more often than the majority of activists do with the people from regions. I know much more about their problems than many people living in Kazakhstan,» the political emigrant said.

«Base» channel has been existing since 2014 and certain stories get up to 5 million views, which is a significant marker for Kazakhstan. «We made our stories, one after another, despite failures. In fact, this is sheer drudgery. That's why it is difficult to rise and keep at the same level for one year, it takes much effort to keep at the same level,» Sadykov said.

The family is also an effort. Although, in Ukraine, at least, in Kyiv (not only Aidos emphasised this fact), children feel very comfortable, regardless of their origin.

The Sadykovs have three children. The last child – the girl – was born after their relocation.

«They attend public Ukrainian school; the language of instruction is Ukrainian. Thanks God, they are fluent in Ukrainian and it's not their first year at school,» he said.

The children have no problems with their peers either at school or beyond. They are not treated as migrants. Aidos doesn't speak the Ukrainian; however, he is not mistreated there.

«If there's a need, I can speak it, but very poorly. I can understand what they say, but I can speak only Russian,» Aidos Sadykov said.

Although, a small Kazakh diaspora and even smaller Kazakh political group have already formed in Ukraine. But the Sadykovs have relationships with neither of them.
«Well, if the diaspora is organised by local Kazakhs, they are related with the embassy and avoid us. There's a diaspora that is run and always in touch with the embassy of Kazakhstan. As to the people who say they are here for political reasons… You must know better than me, what they are doing, what relationship we have, right?

The position is as follows: if I am an oppositionist, I must not tell lies, play a double game. I must tell truth. One must not hide behind the fact that Kazakhstan persecutes the opposition, so oppositionists must be given political asylum here and some privileges must be created for them.

So, we need to view this situation objectively: we should speak openly if there's a real political reason, a real political persecution. If it's a disguise for hiding criminals, for hypocrites, or for those who hide behind political activity, such statements would play into their hands and they will be parasitic upon and harmful for the reputation of human rights organisations of Kazakhstan and the opposition of Kazakhstan.»

- Aidos Sadykov.
The Sadykovs communicate only with their friends from Kyiv, and with their numerous volunteer journalists and the political «crowd» based in Kazakhstan.

However, despite the relatively successful life and everyday engagement in the life of their country of origin, they do not leave out a possibility to return home after seven years spent abroad.
«All normal people do want to go back. As long as we have this government, it's useless to go back. If we return, my wife and I will go directly to prison. Why do we need it? If the regime changes, we'd like to return.».
© 2020