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Kazakhstan: Astana Having Hard Time Escaping Zhanaozen’s Shadow

While several former oil workers and political activists have been recently released in connection with the unrest in Zhanaozen, three prominent leaders are still in jail awaiting trial. (Photo: Joanna Lillis)

No matter how hard officials in Kazakhstan try to bring closure to last winter’s outburst of violence in and around the western city of Zhanaozen, the incident continues to dent the Central Asian nation’s reputation for stability and rising prosperity.

At the heart of the lingering tension over the Zhanaozen tragedy -- in which labor unrest prompted rioting that turned deadly -- is the matter of culpability for the loss of life. The official death toll stands at 15. Questions about the conduct of security forces remain unanswered to a satisfying degree. An official probe into events placed most of the blame for the violence on government critics and assorted malcontents.

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Joanna Lillis is a freelance writer who specializes in Central Asia.

Kazakhstan: Astana Having Hard Time Escaping Zhanaozen’s Shadow

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