Kazakhstan: Two union leaders were arrested for mass protest of oil workers

Amin Yeleusinov
Two trade union leaders were arrested by police on January, 20th in Aktau (Mangistau region, Kazakhstan) while participating in a mass protest of oil workers. The authorities fabricated criminal cases against Nurbek Kushakbaev, Deputy Chairman of the Confederation of Independent Trade Unions of the Republic of Kazakhstan (KNPRK), and Amin Yeleusinov, chairman of the trade union of oil services company Oil Construction Company (affiliate of KNPRK). Their location is currently unknown.

Police officials said that Nurbek Kushakbaev charged for “public calls for the continuation of participation in the strike that caused substantial harm to the rights and legitimate interests of citizens or organizations” under article 408 of the Criminal Code of Kazakhstan.

Amin Yeleusinov was accused of allegedly embezzling union funds and he faces from 7 to 12 years in prison in accordance with Paragraph 4 of Article 189 of the Criminal Code of Kazakhstan. Despite the serious criminal charges, police have refused to publicly announce the amount of the stolen funds.

KNPRK is convinced that these criminal cases were fabricated to stop the mass hunger strike of workers at Oil Construction Company. They are protesting against the forced liquidation of KNPRK and its affiliates and holding their strike for two weeks already. Trade union center is assured that arrest of Nurbek Kushakbaev and Amin Eleusinov should be considered illegal. 

On January 4, 2017 Special Interdistrict Economic Court of the city of Shymkent made a decision on compulsory liquidation KNPRK at the lawsuit filed by the Ministry of Justice of Kazakhstan. Similar decisions were adopted by the judicial authorities in respect of a number of member organizations KNPRK. On January 5th more than 400 employees Oil Construction Company carried out a mass protest with the requirement to register KNPRK. The action takes place in the oil fields and in the premises of the trade union in the city of Aktau.

Earlier, the authorities of Kazakhstan filed the criminal case against the chairman of KNPRK Larisa Kharkova.

KNPRK and the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) launched the international campaign against the liquidation of independent trade union center, that was supported by 7 000 people from around the world. Numerous appeals were sent by international and national trade unions to Kazakhstan authorities with the demand to stop violations of international norms and prevent any discrimination against independent trade unions in the country.

Confederation of Labour of Russia (KTR) is following the situation and will inform the ILO and the international trade union community.

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