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.

Continue reading

Images in your head

DSC08733When you wander through the streets of Bishkek, you probably won’t immediately like it. It is not as huge and owerwhelmingly intimidating as Moscow or other metropolises, has not the scruffy, old and wrecked down charme of cities like Marseille or – sometimes Berlin, which I personally am really into, nor is it close to anything advertising brochures would probably print on their front – thus: the “real, objective” beauty of a city.

Like most tourists or newbies I spent the first days walking around the centre, where the most representative, soviet buildings are situated and where there are big shopping malls and you can even get good coffee (I’ll explain that somewhere else). Right now, seeing the news on the internet, I am already a little bit familiar with those places and although most Western journalists (if it ever comes to the rare event that they have to report about Kyrgyzstan) tend to look for the “oriental” flare, therefore showing the markets and some people with headscarves (which seem extremely rare to me – at least in the capital, I see less people wearing it than in Berlin), or the typical kyrgyz hats some men are wearing. This made me think quite quickly after some days that the city is easy to get used to. And I have to admit that I was even a little bit disappointed about how “Western” Bishkek seemed to me.

This is one part of the story. The urge to find differences.

Another part are the ideas in our heads. Continue reading