A wide perception gap concerning the deadly rioting in the western city of Zhanaozen late last year is making it difficult for Kazakhstan to move on.
To some observers, it seemed that a Kazakhstani court was, to a certain extent, trying to go easy on the defendants on June 4, when it reached verdicts in a trial, held in the city of Aktau, involving 37 people accused of criminal behavior connected to the Zhanaozen tragedy. But friends and relatives of the accused saw no leniency in the court’s decisions, only an effort to scapegoat innocent people.
In all, 34 of the 37 defendants were found guilty in what was the largest Zhanaozen-related trial. Thirteen were given jail terms, the longest handed down to a female former energy worker who was a prominent figure in a seven-month strike in Zhanaozen’s oil sector leading up to the violence. Roza Tuletayeva was sentenced to seven years in prison, and 12 others received jail terms of three-to-six years.
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Joanna Lillis is a freelance writer who specializes in Central Asia.