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Activists Jailed Over Protest For Kazakh Labor Lawyer

Lawyer Natalya Sokolova, who represented striking oil workers, was jailed for six years.
ALMATY, Kazakhstan -- Two Kazakh activists have been jailed for five days for staging a protest demanding the release from jail of a labor lawyer who represented striking oil workers, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reports.

Arman Ozhaubaev and Dmitry Tikhonov were among three activists detained on August 17 for picketing the offices of the ruling Nur-Otan party.

They wore T-shirts with the striking oil workers' demands printed on them and had chains around their necks. They also held placards saying: "Kazakh oil workers are not slaves!" and "Free Natalya Sokolova!"

Sokolova, who represented striking oil workers in western Kazakhstan, was jailed for six years last week for inciting "social hatred."

Tikhonov told RFE/RL that he and Ozhaubaev were sentenced to five days in jail for "holding an unsanctioned public gathering." He said the trial of Zhanna Baitelova, the third activist, had been postponed, as she has left Almaty.

The three are all from Kazakhstan's Socialist Movement.

Thousands of oil workers in Kazakhstan's western Manghystau region have been on strike since May to demand a pay raise, the lifting of restrictions on the activities of independent labor unions in the region, and equal rights with foreign workers.

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