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CHOLPON-ATA, Kyrgyzstan -- Some 200 protesters have rallied in the Kyrgyz resort of Cholpon-Ata on Lake Issyk-Kul to demand the return of land that was leased to private companies, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reports.

The protesters erected 16 yurts or traditional Central Asian nomadic tents at the site. They told RFE/RL they would stay and protest until three eight-hectare plots of land leased in 2001 for 49 years to the private companies Bakyt (Happiness), Yurist (Lawyer), and Daga-City are returned.

Cholpon-Ata Mayor Mirlan Maratov told journalists that the three companies have made no investment in the local infrastructure, something the lease agreement requires them to do.

Land around Cholpon-Ata is extremely valuable, as tens of thousands of tourists -- most of them from Russia and neighboring Kazakhstan -- come to Issyk-Kul's resorts and spas every summer.

Read more in Kyrgyz here
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