Kazakhstan: Workers’ leaders released from prison

Karaganda union activists persecuted for fighting on behalf of unpaid workers

Two prominent trade union leaders from Karaganda, Saken Zhanusov and Rustem Zhanusov, were given early parole on 19 March. CWI members from Kazakhstan report that this outcome was influenced by the international campaign organised, by the CWI, to demand their release.

The two were sentenced to 3 years imprisonment in Kazakhstan’s notorious prisons on 20 February 2003. Their comrade Ramil Mingazov, for reasons of health, was ordered to pay a large fine.

The sentence 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 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 release of Saken Zhanusov and Rustem Zhanusov shows the effectiveness of international solidarity campaigns by the workers’ movement.

socialistworld.net thanks all those cwi members, supporters and readers who answered the solidarity appeal.

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March 2004