Kazajstán - Politically motivated investigation into labour leader accused of embezzlement of union funds

Kazakh authorities in Shymkent have begun a criminal investigation into allegations that Erlan Baltabay, head of the local trade union Decent Work for Petrochemical Industry Workers, misappropriated union funds. The investigation stems from a complaint filed by a trade union member accusing Baltabay of stealing approximately US$28,000 in membership dues. Baltabay says that the funds, which remain in his possession, were placed under his supervision as chairman of the union, and that he can account for the funds.
As part of the investigation, the authorities have repeatedly summoned Baltabay for questioning, searched his home and office, and seized trade union documents and the trade union’s stamp. This has effectively paralysed his union from carrying out any formal activities. The investigation is ongoing.
It is likely that this criminal investigation is politically motivated in retaliation for Baltabay having repeatedly spoken critically about the situation of trade unions in Kazakhstan, including at the International Labour Conference in Geneva in 2017.

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