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Two Kazakh Women Ask Obama To Help Return Their Homes

ASTANA -- Police in Kazakhstan briefly detained two women who demonstrated outside the U.S. Embassy and appealed to President Barack Obama to help solve economic and social problems in the Central Asian nation.

Gulbarshin Baktybaeva and Rysqaisha Kerkimbaeva were detained on February 2 after they unfurled a sign urging "U.S. President Barack Obama and the U.S. Ambassador to Kazakhstan to ask President [Nursultan] Nazarbaev how we can live without homes and pensions."

Baktybaeva's daughter, Moldir, told RFE/RL that her mother was protesting a court decision on their apartment's foreclosure.

She said the two women decided to demonstrate outside the U.S. Embassy because Kazakh authorities had refused to help them.

The women, both from the northeastern city of Semey, were held for two hours and then released.

Last year, residents of several cities demonstrated in Astana to demand relief from hard-currency mortgage loans whose cost shot up after the National Bank announced a 19-percent devaluation of the national currency, the tenge, in February. Protests have also been held in Almaty.

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