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Jailed Lawyer Of Striking Kazakh Oil Workers Loses Appeal


Striking oil workers (file photo)

Striking oil workers (file photo)

AQTAU, Kazakhstan -- The jailed lawyer of striking oil workers in western Kazakhstan lost her appeal today and will remain in prison, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reports.

A civic activist in Aqtau, Aizhangul Amirova, told RFE/RL that the Manghystau Oblast Court refused the appeal filed by Natalya Sokolova, a lawyer for the Qarazhanbasmunai oil company's labor unions.

Sokolova was found guilty of "igniting social hatred" last month and given a six-year jail term. She says the case against her is politically motivated.

Meanwhile, thousands of Kazakh oil workers continue their strike at the Qarazhanbasmunai and OzenMunaiGaz oil and gas corporations in the western Manghystau Oblast.

The workers, who began the strike in May, are demanding a wage increase, equal rights with foreign workers, the release of Sokolova, and the lifting of restrictions on the activities of independent labor unions in the region.

Some 410 of the workers have been fired since the strike began. Several others have been brought to trial on charges of organizing unsanctioned mass gatherings.

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