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Kazakhstan: Pensioners Protest In Capital

Almaty, 30 May 1997 (RFE/RL) - Hundreds of elderly pensioners took to the streets of the Kazakh capital, Almaty, today to draw attention to pensions that they say are inadequate given rising state charges for rents and utilities.

Our correspondent reports the unsanctioned rally took place in front of the Kazakh parliament building. The protesters carried placards reading "do not humiliate us with poverty" and "increased tariffs mean death."

The participants also carried portraits of Lenin and Stalin and Soviet flags. They criticized the government for allowing foreign companies to gain control of utilities, saying it had led to hikes in utility payments.

Monthly pensions in Almaty average some 3,000 tenge ($40) while rent and utilities for a mid-size flat now cost 2,500 tenge ($33) a month.