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Striking Kazakh Oil Workers Appeal To President

Some of the representatives for the striking Kazakh oil workers in Almaty on June 7
ASTANA -- Protesting Kazakh oil workers have called upon President Nursultan Nazarbaev to intervene in their conflict with the oil company's management, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reports.

Malik Mendygaliev, recently fired by the Karazhanbasmunai oil company, told reporters today in the capital, Astana, that the protesters addressed an official letter to Nazarbaev.

Hundreds of oil workers in western Kazakhstan have been on strike for more than a month. A group of them came to Astana to press the workers' case and urge the government to intervene in the situation.

Mendygaliev said in the letter they asked Nazarbaev "to take action and take the situation under his personal control."

He said they also demanded the reinstatement of the fired oil workers, for their wages to be increased, and for the release of union activist Natalya Sokolova, who was detained on May 21 at a demonstration outside the Aqtau police headquarters and charged with "igniting social hatred."

Mendygaliev said the protest is continuing but the exact number of protesters is unknown.

The mass demonstration began in early May when several hundred oil workers launched a strike to demand higher wages.