Kazakhs Remembering Uprising of 1986

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ALMATY, Kazakhstan -- They see themselves as patriots who shed blood for their freedom in a rebellion that foreshadowed the demise of the Soviet Union.

But the Kazakhs who took to the streets in mass protests in December 1986 were dismissed as drunkards and hooligans by the Communist authorities who crushed their uprising. Now, 20 years later, these middle-aged former rebels feel their sacrifice and struggle have never been recognized.

Instead, this weekend's anniversary of the revolt in Kazakhstan -- a nation that spans Central Asia's steppes from European Russia to the Chinese border -- is being kept low-key by a government with reason to tread cautiously.

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