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Demonstrators In Kyrgyzstan Protest Electricity Price Hikes

NARYN/TALAS, Kyrgyzstan -- Hundreds of people in the northern Kyrgyz cities of Talas and Naryn joined protests against electricity rate hikes on January 14.

Some 200 people gathered in the central sports stadium in Talas for the protest.

Police who monitored the demonstration said there were no reports of disorder.

In Naryn, about 100 people demonstrated in front of the Drama Theater in the city center.

The protesters left the rally after Kyrgyz Energy Minister Kubanychbek Turdubaev met with them and explained the energy situation in the country.

The protesters are demanding that a government decision that, since December 11, has nearly tripled energy prices once a minimum amount of electricity has been used.

Before December 11, residents of Kyrgyzstan paid 0.7 soms ($0.012) for each kilowatt-hour.

But under the new rates, residents must now pay 2.05 soms ($0.035) for every kilowatt-hour after reaching a limit of 700 kilowatt-hour.

Residents in the country's northern regions are affected by the change the most as winter temperatures there are colder and electricity is commonly used for home heating.

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