Kazakhstani YouTuber Holding Blank Sign Detained in Freedom-of-Speech Experiment

A Kazakhstani YouTuber who speculated that authorities would detain him for holding up a blank sign in a public square was taken away by police in Oral on May 6 for doing just that.

This video shows Aslan Sagutdinov holding a white placard in Oral’s Adai Square. He is then approached by police, who question him before guiding him into a patrol vehicle.

According to local news source Uralsk Week, Sagutdinov explained that he wanted to conduct an experiment to show that there was no freedom of speech in Kazakhstan.

“I want to show that I am a simple citizen who does not participate in picketing protests, but at the same time I will still be taken to the police department even if I have no inscriptions on my poster and even if I do not shout any slogans,” Sagutdinov reportedly said, according to Uralsk Week.

Sagutdinov was released by the police after an interrogation, and in a video statement said that the authorities could find nothing to charge him with.

On his Facebook page, Sagutdinov called the situation absurd, and reposted images of other people holding up blank pieces of paper in solidarity. Credit: Aslan Sagutdinov/Askar Shaygumarov via Storyful