Incidents » Crimes
Author`s name Michael Simpson

Extreme Tourism in Kazakh Manner

To the US Congress, an official address
The American non-commercial TV corporation International Photo & Video News, Incorporated (IPV News USA) shows its high respect for the Congress and reports the following.

A film crew of the TV company was officially invited by Kazakhstan's Asia-Tourism tourism company for contractual works in the framework of the Khan-Tengri - 2003 international mountain festival held on July 16 – August 2, 2003.

According to the last paragraph of the contract, on August 1 the film crew was delivered with an EMERCOM helicopter to the glacial lake of Mertsbakher, one of the most out-of-the-way places in the world. The film crew was to stay there for 24 hours.

On August 2, on the day of an official completion of the expedition works, the tourism company failed to take people away from the lake that is situated on the junction of the glaciers Northern and Southern Enylchek, on the border of Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan. It was impossible to take people away because of bad weather.  

However, this may sound strange but no helicopters arrived to the place next day or within several next days although the weather was good for flights. So, that was absolutely wrong when Asia-Tourism spoke about non-flying weather on those days. These statements are also disproved by actual facts: a Mi-8 helicopter (the board number UN 22957) performed several flights on August 3 by order of the Asia-Tourism company to alpinism camps. At that, the camps were situated 22 kilometers from the place where the US film crew stayed. The helicopters delivered athletes and guests to the closing ceremony of the Mountain Festival that took place in the settlement of Akkol. 

The film crew waited for a helicopter till August 5, and then the head of the crew made a decision to take people out of the place where the crew stayed. The people were afraid that winter cold may suddenly fall (the place where the crew stayed was situated 3,500 meters above the sea level) and feared that food supplies were not sufficient enough.

The crew was supposed to leave the place along the glacier. This should be mentioned here that within several days the group of 9 people, a 14-year girl among them, had no combustible materials to cook meals. 

When the crew left the place along the Northern Enylchek glacier and headed for the Asia-Tourism alpinism camp near the Khan-Tengri peak (4,000 meters above the sea level), the whole of the process was filmed. The camera fixed not only the weather condition but every step of the poor people left on the glacier.

On those days Asia-Tourism was celebrating closing of the festival, the whole of the management was obviously drunk. This is proved by the fact that Polish citizen Yanosh Prokhozhko, being drunk, fell into a crack in the center of the base camp; the man got seriously damaged and was found dead early in the morning. The dead body of the man was taken away from the camp with another helicopter on August 3 (that was the third helicopter that was in the air on that day).

At the very beginning, the IPV News USA crew sent two of its strongest members to the Asia-Tourism base camp to inform about the critical situation of the crew. However, the two messengers reached the camp under the Khan-Tengi peak on August 7 only.

On August 6, someone of the Asia-Tourism management who has sobered up recollected that the film crew was left in the camp and sent a helicopter to the place. The crew members saw the helicopter above their heads while they were walking along the glacier; they even gave the international SOS signals. However, people in the helicopter failed to notice those who walked along the glacier even though the helicopter was just 50-70 meters above their heads. This just testifies that nobody was particularly looking for the film crew. 

After a little while the helicopter landed near a tent of the crew where the people left all the shooting equipment and outfit, then it took off and left for the camp situated on the Southern Enylchek glacier. The helicopter crew of the state rescue service didn't think it was necessary to start searches for the lost group; the Asia-Tourism management didn't raise the alarm and didn't start searching for the missing people until August 7 when the two messengers of IPV News USA came to the camp where the management stayed.

As far as the film crew confronted with the irresponsible attitude of the tourism company that had officially invited them for work, the people contacted the US Embassy in Kazakhstan via a satellite phone.
And only after that call Asia-Tourism sent some rescuers to meet the film crew people; they met within a several hours walk from the management camp. 

Then the Kazakh tourism agency did the following things. On August 9, the above mentioned helicopter made a special flight to deliver two persons to the camp situated on the Northern Enylchek glacier. Those were a mountain climber Nikolay Chervonenko, who called himself "a chief representative manager", and Asia-Tourism Director Tatyana Chepel. 

At that, the IPV News USA leader was presented an unsigned personal bill to the sum of over $25,000; the persons insisted that the film crew would be forced to stay on the glacier until they settled the bill.

After that, the film crew members used a portable radio transmitter of Asia-Tourism (the chief of broadcasting station in the Akkol settlement is radio fan Mr. Vladimir Chepel, Tatyana's father) to officially inform the consuls general of the USA, Russia and Uzbekistan that the group of foreigners was forced to stay on the glacier.

After that Nikolay Chervonenko and Tatyana Chepel declared that nobody forced the film crew to stay on the glacier and the people just had to settle the bill to cover the spending on a special flight of a helicopter that was sent to take the people from the glacier. The sum made up $6,000. The leader of the group agreed to pay the sum immediately and ordered a special helicopter flight to the city of Almaty. But the helicopter came just on August 12 which was its regular flight. The helicopter took five members of the film crew to the tent with the shooting equipment they had left near the Mertsbakher Lake.

After that the helicopter suddenly left not for the northern camp but for the Asia-Tourism camp in the settlement of Akkol, in the center of the Kazakhstan territory.

Two Russian, one Uzbekistan and one US citizens were illegally and forcedly, having no passports and visas (the documents stayed in the northern camp) delivered in a Kazakhstan helicopter to the Kazakhstan territory, inside of the frontier territory; there Asia-Tourism withdrew the shooting equipment (to the sum total of $28,000) as a deposit to guarantee settlement of the declared debt. The Mi-8 MTB helicopter (the board number UN 22957) is registered as working for the Kazakhstan president administration; the machine was piloted by Pyotr Shkurat, the Kazakhstan president's personal chief pilot.

In the settlement of Akkol, the head of the frontier post got into the helicopter; the IPV News USA leader gave him a list of people staying on board the helicopter. At that he also informed the head of the frontier post that the people were taken to the Kazakhstan territory by force, that the people had no documents and visas.

After the shooting equipment seizure to the sum of $28,000 (they seized even a shooting tripod), the helicopter headed for the northern camp where it took the rest of the film crew on board and delivered all of them to the Kazakhstan frontier post of Maidy-Adyr.

Hereby the American corporation International Photo & Video News, Incorporated asked the US Congress to initiate special hearings concerning the above mentioned facts. We are ready to send all necessary documents we have concerning the case to a special US Congress commission for investigation.

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