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Kazakh Prosecutors Seek Three-Year Prison Term For Union Activist

Nurbek Qushaqbaev in an Astana courtroom on April 3

ASTANA -- Prosecutors have asked a court in Kazakhstan to convict Kazakh labor union activist Nurbek Qushaqbaev of instigating an illegal workers' strike and sentence him to three years in prison.

The request was made on April 4 at Qushaqbaev's trial in Astana, the capital of the energy-rich Central Asian nation.

Qushaqbaev, a member of the union at the Oil Construction Company (OCC) in the western Manghystau region, was arrested in January after hundreds of OCC workers struck for two weeks to protest the closure of a trade-union alliance.

The strike was stopped after a local court declared it illegal.

Qushaqbaev pleaded not guilty.

The Confederation of Independent Trade Unions was closed on January 4 after a court ruled that it had failed to meet deadline for reregistration.

The confederation says its attempts to reregister were impeded by local officials.

A verdict in Qushaqbaev's trial is expected on April 6.

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