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Veteran Kazakh Activist Irina Savostina Dies At 87


Irina Savostina speaks at an award ceremony in Almaty in 2011.

ALMATY, Kazakhstan -- Veteran pro-democracy and human rights activist Irina Savostina has died in Almaty at the age of 87.

Savostina's relatives and associates said that she died on September 2 of complications caused by diabetes.

In the 1990s, Savostina was considered one of the most influential public figures in the Central Asian country.

She led the Pokoleniye (Generation) movement to defend pensioners' rights and organized numerous rallies in the former Soviet republic's largest city, Almaty, protesting government plans to increase the retirement age, utility price hikes, and demanding higher social allowances for pensioners.

Savostina supported opposition parties and movements and publicly called on the government and Kazakhstan's leadership to implement economic and democratic reforms in the country.

One of her main slogans known to the public was "Kazakhstan will be free only when democracy wins in the country."

Born in the Russian capital, Moscow, Savostina moved to Russia's Far East when she was 5 years old after her parents were exiled there during Soviet dictator Josef Stalin's repressions, known as the Great Terror.

She lived in Kazakhstan from 1947 and and became a Kazakh citizen after the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991.

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