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Former Mayor Of Troubled Kazakh Oil Town Goes On Trial

Former Zhanaozen Mayor Orak Sarbopeev
AQTAU, Kazakhstan -- The former mayor of the southwestern Kazakh town of Zhanaozen, Oraq Sarbopeev, has gone on trial in the regional capital, Aqtau.

Sarbopeev, whose trial began on May 25, was sacked shortly after deadly clashes between striking oil workers and security forces in Zhanaozen left at least 16 dead in mid-December.

He was arrested in February and charged with bribery and embezzlement of state money allocated for the social and financial support of local citizens.

Prosecutor General Askhat Dauylbaev stated in January that the deadly riots in Zhanaozen might have been prompted by the illegal activities of local government officials and independent labor unions.

The deadly clashes in Zhanaozen erupted after striking local oil workers refused to leave the town’s central square, where they had been protesting for almost eight months demanding a salary increase.
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