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Kazakh Opposition Protests Development Of Almaty Square

ALMATY -- Dozens of protesters from Kazakhstan's Azat opposition party have picketed the Almaty mayor's office demanding that construction going on under the city's Square of the Republic be stopped.

The Almaty city administration has been building a shopping and entertainment center under the square for many months.

Azat party leader Bolat Abilov read out his party's petition demanding an immediate stop to all construction work, the restoration of the square's original look, and for it to be renamed Independence Square.

Abilov said it is improper to have an entertainment center under the square, which was "soaked with the blood of Kazakh youth in December 1986."

Kazakhs are currently marking the 22nd anniversary of a mass student protest against the Kremlin that was violently broken up by the Soviet regime in 1986.