The United Kingdom has denied entry to a Kazakh artist who does not have hands because he cannot provide fingerprints, he says.
Anti-nuclear activist Karipbek Kuyukov was due to travel to Great Britain last month to attend a conference and show his paintings.
“I was denied a visa on the grounds that my fingerprints were of unsatisfactory quality. I was asked for additional fingerprints, although I physically could not give them any fingerprints.
My sister who was supposed to accompany me received a visa because they took her fingerprints. Why do they need fingerprints anyway?” Kuyukov asked.
Photos he provided the embassy clearly showed he is disabled, he added, noting that he did not have any problems when he successfully applied for an American visa last year.
The British Consulate in Almaty did not respond to requests for comment on May 6 within the time frame promised. Repeated calls to the British Embassy in Astana went unanswered.
Kuyukov, 44, was born near the Soviet Union’s largest nuclear test site, at Semipalatinsk in what is now northeastern Kazakhstan, and attributes his disability – he was born without hands – to the radioactive fallout from the tests.
Kuyukov has been involved in anti-nuclear campaigning for over twenty years, displaying his paintings – which he makes by holding a brush in his mouth and between his toes – around the world.
Today, Kuyukov is an honorary ambassador for the Atom Project, an anti-nuclear awareness initiative founded by President Nursultan Nazarbayev. Nazarbayev closed Semipalatinsk at Kazakhstan’s independence in 1991.