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Kazakh Union Leader Hospitalized After Being Hit By Car

Sovet Tokenov

Sovet Tokenov

ZHANA OZEN, Kazakhstan -- A union leader in western Kazakhstan has been seriously injured after being hit by a car, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reports.

Sovet Tokenov was hospitalized on October 30 after being hit while walking in the town of Zhana Ozen in Manghystau Oblast.

Tokenov's colleagues at the OzenMunaiGaz oil company say the incident was not an accident, but a warning message to him and other workers.

A doctor at the Zhana Ozen hospital told RFE/RL he had no information about Tokenov, and that no patient of that name had ever been registered in the emergency room.

But Zhana Ozen police confirmed that Tokenov was hit by a BMW car with Almaty license plates while crossing a road. They said the car had not been located.

The police added that alcohol was found in Tokenov's blood.

Hundreds of OzenMunaiGaz workers staged a strike on October 21-25 to demand the release of union activist Taghan Qoshchanov, who was jailed for drug possession on October 20.

The workers ended their strike after Qoshchanov was transferred from the detention center and placed under house arrest, and OzenMunaiGaz management promised to hire a lawyer to defend Qoshchanov during the investigation and any subsequent trial.

Qoshchanov will remain under house arrest until December 21.

Qoshchanov has organized and coordinated a number of strikes by oil workers this year.