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Hundreds Of Vendors Protest In Almaty After Fire Destroys Businesses

  • RFE/RL's Kazakh Service

ALMATY -- Hundreds of vendors whose businesses were destroyed by a massive fire in Almay, Kazakhstan’s largest city, rallied on April 28.

The protesters blocked a road in downtown Almaty, chanting "Shame to the government!" and calling for President Nursultan Nazarbaev's help.

The fire damaged some 25 thousand square meters of the Adem Trade Center on April 27.

Police forced the protesters to clear the road, and some police officers demanded that journalists switch off their cameras.

More than a dozen fires have hit markets in Almaty over the past one-and-a-half-years, including one that killed two people in December 2013.

Vendors have staged series of protests to demand compensation from the government.

Some vendors have accused the government of orchestrating the fires in order to drive them out of the trade centers.

Almaty officials have refused to rebuild damaged trade centers, saying they were established illegally in the 1990s and interfere with plans for new highways.

Authorities say one fire has been determined to be the result of arson and the others are still being investigated.