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Jailed Kazakh Labor Union Leader Ordered Released On Parole

Amin Eleusinov (right) was released on parole after being sentenced to two years in prison in May 2017. (file photo)

PAVLODAR, Kazakhstan -- A court in Kazakhstan's northern city of Pavlodar has ordered a top labor leader whose conviction was condemned by human rights activists to be released from prison on parole.

Nurbek Qushaqbaev, a union leader at the Oil Construction Company (OCC), was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison in April 2017 after a court in Astana convicted him on charges of instigating an illegal strike by oil workers.

Under the court’s May 10 ruling, Qushaqbaev will be released on May 28 unless prosecutors successfully appeal the decision, the court's spokeswoman, Gulsim Aqtaeva, told RFE/RL.

Qushaqbaev, along with another labor union leader, Amin Eleusinov, was arrested in January 2017 after hundreds of OCC workers went on a hunger strike to protest the closure of a trade union alliance.

The strike was stopped after a court in Astana declared it illegal.

Eleusinov was sentenced to two years in prison in May 2017 on embezzlement charges and for publicly insulting, assaulting, and refusing to obey a representative of state authority.

Human rights activists in Kazakhstan and abroad have condemned the convictions, calling them politically motivated.

The court's decision to grant Qushaqbaev parole comes a week after the same court ruled to release Eleusinov on parole.

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