On the 20 February, Saken Zhanusov and Rustem Zhanusov were sentenced to 3 years in Kazakhstan’s notorious prisons. Their comrade Ramil Mingazov, for reasons of health, was ordered to pay a large fine.
That this is a clearly vindictive sentence is shown by the fact that the decision was not based on the original criminal charges originally lodged against the three. The prosecution was not able to provide sufficient evidence to back up the charges. Instead the three were sentenced for "violence against a court official", a charge which followed a fracas in court caused by an attempt by the court officials to manhandle Saken Zhanusov at the end of one of the hearings.
The real reason for the sentence, or course, was that the three, all trade union leaders in Karaganda, had succeeded in forcing local employers to pay over $500,000 of unpaid wages to workers in the town.
The three will be appealing their sentence to the Regional Court. We will now be stepping up our campaign of international solidarity beginning with pickets in different cities of Kazakhstan on 24 January.
Further details will follow.