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Kazakh union leader freed

12 August, 2019Through a special pardoning decree of the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Erlan Baltabay, leader of the independent oil and gas workers’ union and vice-president of the Confederation of Independent Trade Unions of Kazakhstan (KNPRK), was released from custody on 10 August.

Convicted on bogus charges for misappropriation of funds in retaliation for his trade union work and support for leaders of the dissolved Confederation of Independent Trade Unions of Kazakhstan (KNPRK), Erlan Baltabay was sentenced to seven-years in jail and was served a ban on any public activity, such as trade union activities. The international trade union movement condemned the sentencing and launched a massive campaign for the liberation of the union leader.
During the International Labour Conference (ILC) in Geneva in June 2019, as well as during the session in 2017, Kazakhstan was put under a special scrutiny for systematic violations of the trade union and human rights. This, and the international campaign, allowed the union leader to be finally freed.
Just as his colleagues, KNPRK leaders Larisa Kharkova, Amin Eleusinov and Nurbek Kushakbaev, Erlan Baltabay was convicted on bogus charges. The cases against them aimed at oppressing and silencing trade union activists. Eleusinov and Kushakbaev were released in May 2018.
Valter Sanches, IndustriALL Global Union general secretary, says:

“We want to thank everyone who participated in the solidarity campaign that led to the release of Erlan Baltabay.

“Baltabay’s conviction was politically motivated and it is outrageous that workers are not allowed to exercise their fundamental freedoms and rights. We hope that Baltabay’s liberation signals a step towards improving public freedom in Kazakhstan, and we are calling for a restoration on fundamental trade union rights in the country.”