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Fired Kazakh Police Ask Sting For Help Getting Jobs Back


Sting performing in Kazan earlier this month
AQTOBE, Kazakhstan -- Two dismissed Kazakh police officers have appealed to pop icon Sting to help them get their jobs back after the British rocker snubbed one of Central Asia's prickliest dictators, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reports.

One of the fired officers, Major Galia Muhambetova, tells RFE/RL that she and her colleague gave a letter addressed to Sting to the British Embassy in Kazakhstan, where staff pledged to translate it and forward it to the New York home of the former front man for The Police.

Sting bowed out just 24 hours ahead of a scheduled concert in Astana on July 4 -- National Astana Day and President Nursultan Nazarbaev's birthday. His official website said the cancellation was a show of support for Kazakh oil and gas industry workers, scores of whom have been on strike since May.

Muhambetova says she and fellow officer Kumisbek Kanymbekov were sacked from their jobs in Aqtobe in August after being accused of a violation of police service and military discipline. She says both are being accused in connection with top-secret documents that went missing from the police station.

Muhambetova says they never came into contact with the lost documents.

Kanymbekov tells RFE/RL that he remains unemployed 11 months after his dismissal.

Muhambetova says they have appealed unsuccessfully to the Kazakh Interior Ministry, the Committee on National Security, the Prosecutor-General's Office, and the prime minister's office.

Aqtobe Interior Ministry department spokesman Almat Imangaliev says a Kazakh court concluded that the dismissals were legal.

Muhambetova says that after reading about Sting's pullout, she decided he might help attract the president's attention to their case.

Sting's official website said that: "In light of this current situation, with the unacceptable treatment being meted to these Kazakh oil/gas workers, their families and legal representation, which is extremely serious and continues to worsen, Amnesty International feel his presence in Astana will be interpreted as an endorsement of the presidents’ administration and surely will go against everything he has stood for, while supporting Amnesty and the fight for human rights, for the past 40 years. As a result, Sting has made a decision not to participate in the Astana Day Festival."

The website quoted Sting as saying: "Hunger strikes, imprisoned workers, and tens of thousands on strike represents a virtual picket line which I have no intention of crossing.... The Kazakh gas and oil workers and their families need our support and the spotlight of the international media on their situation in the hope of bringing about positive change."

The "Symphonicity" concert was more than 70 percent sold out before the cancellation.

Read more in Kazakh here and more in Russian here