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Kazakstan Protestors Block Road

April 4, 2001

ALMATY, Kazakstan (AP) _ About 1,000 workers from a natural gas refinery in western Kazakstan blockaded a road on which the country’s prime minister was traveling Wednesday, the government press service reported.

The protest was one of the first reported cases of labor unrest in Kazakstan’s petroleum industry, which has seen billions of dollars of investments from Western companies in the decade following the country’s independence from the Soviet Union. Little of the money has trickled down to the population, where average salaries are only a few dozen dollars per month.

The protesting workers complained they were treated worse than foreign laborers brought to the site near the town of Aksai, about 3,140 kilometers (1,900 miles) west of the country’s principal city Almaty, the press service said.

Prime Minister Kasymzhomart Tokayev talked with the workers and ended the standoff with a promise to raise the issue at a Cabinet meeting, the press service said.

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