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Kazakhs Protest Dollar Mortgages After Tenge Devaluation

ALMATY, Kazakhstan -- Dozens of Kazakhs struggling with the spiraling costs of dollar mortgages amid the plunging value of the tenge currency have demonstrated in the country's largest city, Almaty.

The protesters gathered in front of the Kaspi Bank on February 2, demanding a meeting with the bank's director, Mikhail Lomtadze, to discuss recalculation of their loans in the Kazakh currency -- the tenge -- based on the exchange rate in January 2015 -- 183 tenges per dollar.

The rate on February 2 was 360 tenges per dollar.

After failing to get Lomtadze to meet with them, the protesters marched toward the Kazakh National Bank building, holding signs saying "$1=1 tenge!" and "Kazakh Banks Must Comply With International Standards!"

The currency of Central Asia’s biggest energy exporter has been steadily losing value since last year as slumping oil prices spurred a flight by people to buy dollars.

The decline has triggered several public protests in Almaty and the capital, Astana, in recent months.

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