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Activists In Almaty Express Solidarity With Striking Oil Workers

WATCH: Activists in Almaty hold a demonstration to express their solidarity with striking oil workers.

ALMATY, Kazakhstan -- Around a dozen activists in Kazakhstan’s largest city Almaty have expressed their solidarity with striking oil workers and mourned two deaths in the western region of Manghystau, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reports.

The group, led by Zhanna Baitelova of Kazakhstan’s Socialist Movement, gathered in Almaty's central square on September 9 and placed framed photographs of Zhansaule Qarabalaeva and Zhaqsylyq Turbaev at the Independence Monument there.

Qarabalaeva, 18, a daughter of Qudaibergen Qarabalaev, a leading activist for striking OzenMunaiGaz workers in Manghystau, disappeared on August 21 and was found dead four days later.

Turbaev, an activist for the striking oil workers, was killed by unknown assailants last month.

The activists placed an empty frame showing a question mark on a black background next to the two portraits.

They also distributed traditional Central Asian bread that is shared during commemorations for the dead.

Baitelova told journalists that the gathering was to commemorate Qarabalaeva and Turbaev and to express solidarity with striking oil workers in Manghystau.

Baitelova was released from jail this week after serving a 14-day prison term for staging a protest demanding the release from jail of a labor lawyer who represented striking oil workers.

Baitelova was among three activists detained in Almaty on August 17 for picketing the offices of the ruling Nur-Otan party in support of Natalya Sokolova, who was jailed for six years last month for "igniting social hatred."

Thousands of oil workers in Kazakhstan's western Manghystau region have been on strike since May to demand a pay rise, the lifting of restrictions on the activities of independent labor unions in the region, and equal rights with foreign workers.