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Kazakhstan: Thousands Fill Streets To Protest Shortages

By Merkhat Sharipzhan

Almaty, 26 November 1996 (RFE/RL ) - Unrest is reported continuing for a third day in the southern Kazakh city of Symkent as demonstrators protest a shortage of electricity, gas and telephone service.

Our correspondent reports thousands of people are in the streets, with youths smashing car windows and older demonstrators blocking city streets. Authorities cite a lack of funds to improve the situation.

Southern Kazakhstan has been plagued by a natural gas shortage because of debts to gas suppliers. Kazakh and Uzbek officials recently signed an agreement in Tashkent to increase supplies to southern Kazakhstan. Northern Kazakhstan has suffered gas shortages since Summer, because of energy debts to Russia. Parts of Kazakhstan have reported famine conditions.