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Communist Party Leader Fined For Joining Kazakh Oil Worker Protest

Striking Kazakh oil workers and their families at a rally in July
Striking Kazakh oil workers and their families at a rally in July
AQTAU, Kazakhstan -- A Communist Party leader in western Kazakhstan has been fined for taking part in protests held by thousands of striking oil workers, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reports.

A court in Aqtau fined Nuriyash Abdraimova 7,560 tenges ($50) on August 10 for taking part in an "unsanctioned public gathering."

Abdraimova, 56, told RFE/RL she was fined for simply "expressing her views on the current situation of [striking] oil workers in the region."

She said police came to her apartment in Aqtau early on August 10 and took her to a local court.

"First, they charged me with organizing an unsanctioned public gathering, but later, the judge dropped that charge, but I was found guilty of taking part in such a gathering on August 8," Abdraimova said.

On August 8, Abdraimova went to a rally of striking oil workers in Aqtau's city center and was called on to speak. She told the workers that "President [Nursultan] Nazarbaev and his team should step down as the situation faced by the workers cannot be tolerated any longer."

Ghalym Ageleuov of the Kazakh Bureau for Human Rights, who is currently in western Kazakhstan, told RFE/RL that Abdraimova was fined for expressing her views publicly. He said that contradicts the Kazakh Constitution, which guarantees freedom of speech.

Ageleuov added that one of the leaders of the striking workers, Akzhanat Aminov, who was detained on June 30, will soon face trial. Aminov has been charged with "organization of unsanctioned gatherings and public protests."

On August 8, the striking oil workers' lawyer, Natalya Sokolova, was found guilty of igniting "social hatred" and jailed for six years.

Well-known theater director Bolat Atabaev, who is a member of the opposition People's Front movement, was in Aqtau on August 8. He told RFE/RL that the local government is trying "to behead the striking oil workers' [movement]."

Thousands of oil workers in the western province of Manghystau have been striking since May, demanding a salary raise, equal rights with foreign workers, the release of Sokolova, and that independent trade unions in the region be allowed to operate without restrictions.

Read more in Russian here