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Kazakh Oil Workers Continue Strike Despite Activist's Release

An employee at the OzenMunaiGaz facility in Zhana Ozen (file photo)
An employee at the OzenMunaiGaz facility in Zhana Ozen (file photo)
ZHANA OZEN, Kazakhstan -- Hundreds of oil workers in western Kazakhstan are continuing to strike despite the release from detention of a union activist, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reports.

Taghan Qoshchanov, who was arrested for alleged drug possession, was transferred from the detention center in the town of Zhana Ozen on October 23 and put under house arrest.

Co-workers of Qoshchanov at the OzenMunaiGaz operation in Zhana Ozen, in the Manghystau region, went on strike on October 21, demanding Qoshchanov's release. They say the strike will continue until he is fully exonerated of all charges.

Qoshchanov was arrested on October 20 after police stopped three trucks and asked the drivers, one of whom was Qoshchanov, to get out for questioning and to take an alcohol/drug-control test.

Several police officers searched the trucks and said afterward they found a matchbox filled with hashish and heroin in Qoshchanov's truck. Qoshchanov's colleagues and supporters say the drugs were planted. They said that the drugs were found without a search warrant and with no witnesses.

Qoshchanov is an active union member who has organized and coordinated a number of strikes by oil workers this year.

Qoshchanov's lawyer, Erezhep Tleukulov, told RFE/RL that his client will remain under house arrest till December 21 while police investigate his case.