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Kazakh Labor Union Leader Sentenced To Two Years In Prison


ASTANA -- A court in Kazakhstan has sentenced labor union leader Amin Eleusinov to two years in prison.

The court handed down the sentence on May 16 after convicting Eleusinov, a union leader at the Oil Construction Company (OCC), of embezzlement and of publicly insulting, assaulting, and refusing to obey a representative of state authority.

Eleusinov was arrested in January after hundreds of OCC workers went on hunger strike for two weeks to protest the closure of a trade union alliance.

The strike was stopped after a court in the Central Asian nation declared it illegal.

Union activist Nurbek Qushaqbaev, who was arrested along with Eleusinov, was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison in April after a court convicted him of instigating an illegal strike.

Amnesty International condemned Qushaqbaev's conviction, calling it part of the "destruction of the independent trade union movement in Kazakhstan."

Oil and gas revenues are crucial to Kazakhstan's economy, and budget, and longtime President Nursultan Nazarbaev's government tolerates little dissent.

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