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Kazakh Protesters Picket National Bank After Currency Devaluation

ASTANA -- Dozens of angry protesters picketed the headquarters of Kazakhstan's National Bank in Almaty on February 12, demanding an explanation for a decision to devalue the national currency, the tenge, by 19 percent.

Some protesters cursed bank Chairman Qairat Kelimbetov, using vulgar words and demanding his immediate resignation.

Kelimbetov's deputy, Quat Qozhakhmetov, met with the protesters and promised to try to prevent possible price hikes and to address their concerns over mortgage loans taken from banks in dollars.

Kelimbetov, who announced the decision on February 11, had said in December that no currency devaluation was foreseen.

Meanwhile, the current rate at exchange offices that continue to operate with dollars varies between 186 and 200 tenges for $1. The rate was $1 to 156 tenges on February 10.