A court in Kazakhstan has entered a second week of hearings in the trial of a trade union activist accused of whipping up unrest among industrial workers in the west.
Nurbek Kushakbayev stands accused of inciting a strike in December by several dozen employees of Techno Trading Ltd, a company based in western Kazakhstan. The workers declared they were going on a partial hunger strike in a demand for improved working conditions and an increase in their wages. Kushakbayev is accused of giving strikers advice on how to formulate their demands.
His trial is taking place in the capital city, Astana, 1,700 kilometers away from where the company is based, for reasons that have not been clarified by prosecutors.
On March 28, Kushakbayev’s lawyer, Tulegen Shaikov, appealed for the judge, Aizhan Kulbayeva, to recuse herself, arguing that she was unfairly favoring the prosecution, but the motion was denied.
Kushakbayev’s trial is widely seen as linked to his union consultancy activities at Oil Construction Company (OCC), which is also based in the west, in the city of Aktau. Hundreds of workers there also went on hunger strike earlier this year.
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