“Find permit A38” – trapped in Kyrgyz bureaucracy

Bureaucracy illustration with Max Weber and Franz Kafka by: Harald Groven (flickr)

Bureaucracy illustration with Max Weber and Franz Kafka by: Harald Groven (flickr)

I enter the building for the fifth time in two weeks. I know now where to head. I carry my passport in my hand, passing  by the queue of people sitting at the table and filling out documents. The woman in line before me is almost crying: “… but he is studying here. He has all the documents to study, he already started!” Woman behind the counter: “The permit is only for a month. I cannot extend it”. The first woman: “But you cannot finish studying in a month. He will miss the exams. He will fail the exams”. Woman behind the counter: “The permit is only for a month.” The woman turns around and addresses the person she’s been arguing for. He shruggs, she sighs and both of them have to leave the room. I’m next. I’m nervous. I will ask for the director, I will try to find clear answers. I know I won’t get them from only-one-month-permit-lady but she is my starting point into a lot of trouble. I hand over my passport – and wait for the trouble to start.Visit visa-free  Kyrgyzstan!

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Border-lines (1)

Dear honorable readers, today we are up to 42 degrees, I’m suffering in the office and since I want you in прохладная Европа (cool Europe) to suffer too, I am coming to the heavy stuff. Why would you rarely read about Central Asia on the “International” News (except if some Chechen Kyrgyz guys kill three people in Boston). Might be that there is just nothing going on? Everyone lives a peaceful life in harmony in the beautiful mountains or relaxing in the steppe or trading romantic goods (and/or drugs) on the former Silk Road? I am not so sure – here a glimpse into one hot topic: borders

Although Kyrgyzstan has only 4 borders (see map), there is some quarrels going on about them.

Central Asia on nationsonline.org

Central Asia on nationsonline.org

one week ago an incident near Jalal-Abad at the border region between Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan took place during which one Uzbek border guard was killed, another injured. According to the News and the largely unexcited reactions of my acquaintances (“well, it’s crazy”), this is no exception to happen, since quarrels near the border are quite common (on 20 June for example a Kyrgyz citizen was killed by Uzbek guards – circumstances unclear). As always in such cases, the explanations vary widely, depending on the different Uzbek and Kyrgyz sources. While Uzbek officials stated that the Kyrgyz guards had been drunk and invaded Uzbek territory, according to a Kyrgyz official the Kyrgyz guards had been dragged onto Uzbek territory after a verbal discussion about the border details (messy topic!) with Uzbek guards starting the shooting.

Although I am not in touch with any of this – means I don’t have first-hand information – I want to give you an impression of the ongoing disputes based on newspaper information and conversations with Bishkek inhabitants.

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