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Kazakh Mothers' Press Conference Disrupted In Almaty


The press conference in Almaty on June 7 was halted when a group of around 20 women barged in and started shouting slogans.

ALMATY, Kazakhstan -- A news conference organized in Kazakhstan's largest city, Almaty, by a group of mothers who are demanding social benefits and proper housing has been disrupted by other women.

The incident comes two days ahead of snap presidential elections.

The press conference being held at Kazakhstan’s Bureau for Human Rights on June 7 was stopped when a group of some 20 women barged in and started shouting slogans against single mothers and mothers with many children who had announced the event to highlight their plight on the eve of the election.

"You are violating our nation's peace," "We do not want to have a second Ukraine here," and "Our government is doing everything for you," were some of the slogans shouted by the group.

One of the organizers of the press conference, Zhansaya Zhanabaeva, told RFE/RL that she and other mothers wanted to tell journalists about the difficulties they are facing and their ongoing demands.

The organizers of the press conference said they suspected that those disrupting the event had been sent by the city authorities.

Almaty city administration representatives were not available for immediate comment.

Protests about improper living conditions have been held across the country for months after five children from one family died when their home in the capital burned down in early February.

The tragedy occurred while both parents were working overnight shifts to make ends meet. The last such rallies were held in Nur-Sultan on June 3.

An early presidential election scheduled for June 9 was called after longtime authoritarian leader Nursultan Nazarbaev resigned in March following almost 30 years in power.

The speaker of the Kazakh parliament's upper chamber, the Senate, Qasym-Zhomart Toqaev became interim president and is widely expected to win the upcoming election.

Critics and rights groups say Nazarbaev, who tolerated little dissent, denied many citizens basic rights and prolonged his power in the energy-rich country of 18.7 million by manipulating the democratic process.

No vote held in Kazakhstan since it declared independence from the Soviet Union 1991 has been deemed free and democratic by international observers.

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