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Depositors Make Run on Kazakh Banks

Depositors are making runs on three Kazakh banks, but the national bank chief in the central Asian country denied rumors that the financial institutions were about to declare bankruptcy.

Long lines of depositors rushed to withdraw money Tuesday at Bank Center Credit, Kaspi Bank and Alliance Bank in the country's commercial hub of Almaty. The bank run came a week after the Kazakhstan National Bank announced a 19 percent devaluation of its currency, the tenge.

Rumors spread that the three commercial banks would declare bankruptcy. But central bank chief Kairat Kelimbetov told state television that the banks have enough national and foreign currency to avoid bankruptcy and that if necessary the central bank would support them.

Kelimbetov said the bankruptcy rumors were "provocative and aimed at destabilizing" the country's financial system. He called on his countrymen to "stay unprovoked and calm."

Central banks in several emerging markets, including South Africa, Brazil and India, have raised interest rates in recent weeks in an effort to keep investment money in their countries, rather than see it moved to the United States as interest rates edge higher in the world's largest economy.

But Kazakhstan did the opposite, allowing its currency to fall in an effort to maintain competitiveness with its main trading partner, neighboring Russia, where the ruble has fallen in value.

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