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Relatives Of Jailed Zhanaozen Protesters Challenge PM

  • RFE/RL's Kazakh Service

Prime Minister Karim Masimov

Prime Minister Karim Masimov

ZHANAOZEN, Kazakhstan -- Dozens of residents in Kazakhstan's restive western city of Zhanaozen have staged a protest during a visit to the city by the country's prime minister, Karim Masimov.

Waving placards, the protesters briefly accosted Masimov as he entered a local administration building.

Most of the demonstrators were relatives of residents sentenced last month to between four and years in jail for inciting unrest among disgruntled oil workers during a protracted strike in Zhanaozen last year.

Police shot dead at least 16 protesters during riots connected to the strike in December.

Navy Pillay, the United Nations high commissioner for human rights, visited Zhanaozen last week and criticized authorities for failing to investigate the December violence.