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U.S. Cites Concern Over Kazakh Jailing 'To Silence Opposition'

The United States has expressed concern over the jailing of a Kazakh opposition leader Vladimir Kozlov following his conviction along with two other defendants on charges that include insurrection.

Kozlov, the leader of the unregistered opposition Algha! (Forward!) party, was sentenced to 7 1/2 years in jail on October 8 for his role in a mass strike by oil workers in the country's west that led to violence in December 2011, when 17 people were killed amid clashes with police.

Two co-defendants received suspended sentences.

Kozlov, 52, denies any wrongdoing, saying the case against him is politically motivated.

In a statement issued on October 9, the U.S. Embassy in Astana said the United States values Kazakhstan’s “commitment to greater openness and democracy" and adds, "It is in this spirit that we note our concern regarding the prosecution of Vladimir Kozlov and the apparent use of the criminal system to silence opposition voices."
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