Kazakhstan: International protests force authorities to release workers’ leader, Saken Zhanusev

At a special court hearing last Friday, a criminal court judge in Karaganda, Kazakhstan, suddenly decided that there were "no legal grounds" for holding workers’ leader, Saken Zhanusev, on remand (i.e. in prison) until his trial, which could be months away.

Protesters outside the Kazakhstan Embassy in Moscow, 7 September 2002

International protests force authorities to release workers’ leader, Saken Zhanusev

Credit for this development has to go to the CWI, which has organised pickets and protests throughout the world against the arrest of this trade union leader.

In Moscow, last Saturday, over 30 protested outside the Kazakhstan embassy. The Russian authorities, in collusion with the Kazakhstan Embassy, refused protesters permission to use a megaphone. So the protesters all had whistles, which they regularly blew. This gave the protest plenty of notice. Next time, the authorities will probably let us use the megaphone!

However, while it is a victory to get Saken released, he and three other trade unionists still face 11 criminal charges between them. So pressure has to be maintained to get the charges dropped.

Not only have Moscow-based human rights campaigners agreed to take up this case, but also even the European Union Ambassador has contacted Saken to say that they are very disturbed about his situation. Western governments support the new opposition organisation– Democratic Choice of Kazakhstan and are concerned about the imprisonment of its leaders.

Saken personally and the Workers’ Movement of Kazakhstan have sent their thanks to the CWI and ask for pressure not to be let up. When the date for the trail becomes known, we will inform readers.

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September 2002