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Kazakh Rapper Forced To Cancel Concert For Striking Workers

Kazakh rapper Takezhan Oteghaliev
Kazakh rapper Takezhan Oteghaliev
ALMATY, Kazakhstan -- Famous Kazakh rapper Takezhan Oteghaliev has been pressured into canceling a concert in support of striking oil workers in western Kazakhstan, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reports.

Takezhan told RFE/RL the concert was to have been held on August 27 at the Zhuldyz restaurant in Almaty. But on August 26 the restaurant's management urged him to cancel it and cite "health problems" as the reason.

Takezhan said it was likely the managers were pressured "from above" to prevent the concert from taking place.

Takezhan said he agreed to the restaurant's request and cancelled the show.

He also offered his apologies to the restaurant's management, admitting that by announcing his intention to give all the proceeds to striking oil workers in the western Manghystau region he had "put the restaurant's owners in a very delicate situation."

Restaurant director Saule Suleimenova told RFE/RL that Takezhan canceled the concert "due to health problems."

Last week, Takezhan announced plans to perform in Almaty in support of the thousands of striking oil workers in Manghystau. He told RFE/RL he wanted to highlight their situation. Hundreds of the striking workers have been fired.

The oil workers are demanding the same wages and benefits as foreign -- mostly Chinese -- workers in the region, the lifting of restrictions on labor unions, and the release of independent union activist Natalya Sokolova, who was jailed for six years earlier this month for "igniting social hatred."

Takezhan told RFE/RL that even though the concert did not take place, he managed to publicize the problems the strikers are facing.

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