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Labor Union Activist Jailed In Kazakhstan

QARAZHANBAS, Kazakhstan -- A Kazakh labor union activist has been jailed for eight days for taking part in a weekend protest by striking oil workers, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reports.

Union activist Quanysh Sisembaev told RFE/RL that Natalya Sokolova was found guilty on May 24 of "organizing an unsanctioned mass gathering in front of the local police headquarters in the city of Aqtau on May 21."

Earlier on the same day, Sokolova told RFE/RL that the Tubqaraghan district court in western Manghystau Oblast fined her $150 for taking part in an illegal mass gathering on May 17.

On May 17, hundreds of workers at the Qarazhanbas oil and gas field in Manghystau joined a strike begun by several co-workers earlier this month.

The strikers also gathered en masse in Qarazhanbas that day to demand a pay rise and the lifting of restrictions on the activities of independent trade unions.

Sokolova told RFE/RL on May 24 that a second administrative case was filed against her after she attended another mass gathering by striking workers on May 21.

The strike is continuing.

Read more in Russian here