Kazakhstan: Press conference in Moscow

Kurmanov and Ukteshbayev speak out

At a press conference in Moscow, the threatened trade union leaders, Ainur Kurmanov and Esenbek Ukteshbayev, pointed to a blatant cover-up over the Zhanaozen massacre. The death toll could yet reach 200, they said. Twenty union leaders and activists are being held in detention awaiting court hearings scheduled for the next week. At least six of them are facing up to 12 years in jail for ‘stirring social strife’ and ‘instigating unrest’.

The two union leaders outlined plans for the near future in terms of mass rallies and an international delegation.

“Mass rallies are planned in Zhanaozen and Almaty on Feb. 23 and Feb. 25, respectively”, said Esenbek Ukteshbayev, leader of the independent Zhanartu trade union. “Even though the rallies have not been sanctioned officially, hundreds of people are ready to take to the streets in order to demand an independent investigation into the massacre in Zhanaozen”.

A Socialist member of the European Parliament, Paul Murphy, plans to visit Kazakhstan with a delegation of trade union and human rights activists in the near future to investigate the Zhanaozen massacre, speakers at the news conference said.

They also spoke of an incident at a recent national singing contest, where popular Kazakh singer, Baurzhan Kaliolla, publicly reprimanded Nazarbayev for ignoring protesting oil-workers’ demands for seven months.

For a full report, read article from Moscow News carried on Campaign Kazakhstan web-site. Click here.

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