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Kazakh Women Call For Increased Social Benefits At Nur-Sultan Rally

Protesters gathered at the Labor and Social Protection Ministry in Nur-Sultan on January 13.
Protesters gathered at the Labor and Social Protection Ministry in Nur-Sultan on January 13.

NUR-SULTAN -- Dozens of women have rallied in the Kazakh capital to call for the government to raise social benefits paid to families with children, the second such rally this month.

At least 50 protesters gathered in front of the Labor and Social Protection Ministry on January 13 demanding an increase in financial support to single mothers, mothers taking care of handicapped children, and those with low incomes.

Other women from families with multiple children were among the protesters, saying a boost in social allowances of about 10,100 tenges ($27) per child that kicked in at the start of the year is insufficient.

A representative of the Nur-Sultan mayor's office, Elnur Beisenbaev, came to the site and invited the protesters to come inside the building to discuss their demands, but the women refused after journalists were not allowed to accompany them.

The protesters then tried to march to the presidential administration but were intercepted by police, who blocked their way.

Protests about poor living conditions and financial shortcomings have been held across Kazakhstan for almost a year after five children from one family died when their home in the capital burned down in early February 2019.

The tragedy occurred while both parents were working overnight shifts to make ends meet.

The protests intensified before and after an early presidential election held on June 9, which was called after 79-year-old President Nursultan Nazarbaev resigned in the wake of protests in March after almost 30 years in power.

In addition to heading the ruling Nur-Otan party, Nazarbaev is still chairman of the country’s powerful Security Council and holds the title of elbasy, or leader of the nation.

Qasym-Zhomart Toqaev, who became interim president after Nazarbaev's resignation, was declared the winner of the June 9 election.

No vote held in Kazakhstan since 1991 has been deemed free and democratic by international observers.

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

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