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Situation Remains Tense In Western Kazakhstan After Deadly Clashes

A Eurasianet partner post from RFE/RL

Hundreds of people have gathered in the center of Aqtau, the capital of Kazakhstan's western province of Manghystau, to support striking oil workers in the town of Zhanaozen, where on December 16 at least 11 people were killed and at least 80 were wounded in violent clashes between the workers and police.

RFE/RL's correspondent reports from Aqtau that police with rubber truncheons, shields, and guns are monitoring the people gathered on the central square.

On December 17, Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev issued a decree imposing a state of emergency and a curfew in Zhanaozen. In a statement, Nazarbaev accused "hooligans" of organizing mass disorder and said police had to open fire "to protect themselves and local citizens and preserve order."

The clashes in Zhanaozen on December 16 started after the town authorities began celebrations to mark the 20th anniversary of Kazakhstan's independence on the central square, where oil workers have been protesting since May to demand a salary raise, equal rights with foreign workers, and the right of independent labor unions to organize in the region.

To read the full story

Written by Merhat Sharipzhan, with reporting from RFE/RL's Kazakh Service and agencies

A Eurasianet partner post from RFE/RL

Situation Remains Tense In Western Kazakhstan After Deadly Clashes

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