25 september 2020

Central Asia news

Another trade union leader imprisoned in Kazakhstan

16.05.2017 20:19 msk


On 16 May in Kazakhstan, the leader of the trade union of the oil-service ‘Oil Construction Company’ Amin Yeleusinov was sentenced to two years of imprisonment in a general regime colony with confiscation of his property without the right to engage in trade union activities for a period of five years and compensation for damage of 8,212 million Kazakh tenge (about 25 thousand US dollars).

Amin Yeleusinov during his sentencing. Screenshot of the ‘Azattyk’ video broadcast

The chair of the trade union organisation from the city of Aktau in west Kazakhstan was detained by the police on 20 January 2017. Mr Yeleusinov together with another trade union leader Nurbek Kushakbayev led a hunger strike of his company's employees in protest against the liquidation of the Confederation of Independent Trade Unions of the Republic of Kazakhstan; the only independent trade union of the country.

The workers' hunger strike took place after the shift in the workforce partly in the building of the trade union in Aktau, partly in the facilities. Nevertheless, the court called it a strike and ruled on the illegality of the action. After the hunger-strike dozens of participants were punished according to the administrative procedures for participating in unauthorised protests. Criminal cases had been opened against the two leaders; they were secretly transported to Astana, where they were trialled.

Nurbek Kushakbayev was sentenced to two and a half years of prison on 7 April 2017 - under the article ‘appeals to continue participation in a strike recognised by the court as unlawful’ of the Criminal Code. At the same time, Mr Kushakbayev was formally tried for early strikes at his and other oilfield services company, to which he has nothing to do.

The trial against Amin Yeleusinov started on 2 May 2017 in Alma-Ata district court No. 2 of Astana chaired by Judge Gulzhan Ubasheva. The trade union figure was accused according to four articles of the Criminal Code: ‘Misappropriation or embezzlement of entrusted foreign property on an especially large scale’ (admittedly - trade union funds worth more than 14.6 million Kazakh tenge or 45,000 US dollars); ‘Insulting a government representative committed in public or using media or telecommunications networks;’ ‘Disobedience to the representative of power;’ and ‘Use of violence against a representative of the authorities.’

Amin Yeleusinov in video in Youtube

The next day, the defendant announced his intention to go to a procedural agreement, and it was concluded on 12 May 2017 that he fully recognises his guilt for all the charges had brought against them. In turn, the prosecution party decreased its claims regarding the embezzlement of trade union funds almost twice, and the police withdrew claims against him on unconfirmed ‘insults’ and ‘knee blow to the face of a police officer.’

As for ‘misappropriation or embezzlement of property,’ more than 700 members of the ‘Oil Construction Company’ sent their letters of support to the defendant leader and demanded his release.

The verdict announced by the court repeated prosecutor demands one by one sounded on 12 May.

It should be noted that in February 2017, deputy general secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation Jaap Wienen during his visit to Kazakhstan promised that ‘the ITUC is ready to approve a campaign involving more than 160 countries to show that Kazakhstan is an undemocratic country.’

A large international organisation was outraged by the attitude of the Kazakh authorities towards the activities of independent trade unions, the series of trade union closures and repressions unleashed against trade union leaders. However, the international confederation has not taken any public action to date.

Fergana News Agency