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HRW Calls For Impartial Hearing For Jailed Kazakh Opposition Leader

Vladimir Kozlov
The U.S.-based watchdog group Human Rights Watch (HRW) has urged Kazakhstan to hold an impartial appeal hearing for a jailed opposition leader.

The hearing is scheduled for November 19.

The HRW’s statement called the case against Vladimir Kozlov "a blow to freedom of expression and political pluralism."

He is the leader of the unregistered Algha (Forward) party.

The HRW's Europe and Central Asia director, Hugh Williamson, called Kozlov's conviction "unsound" and "fundamentally incompatible with human rights treaties Kazakhstan has signed."

Kozlov was sentenced to 7 1/2 years in jail last month for his role in a mass strike by oil workers in the country's west that ended in violence in December 2011. Police shot dead 17 people in the western towns of Zhanaozen and Shetpe.

Kozlov insists his case is politically motivated.

With reporting by Interfax
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