Monday, June 13, 2005

A shooting a few blocks away

It seems that the bandits are really raring up for the election and that is bad news for the vast majority who want peace and stability.

I've been sitting in an internet cafe for the past few hours since our connection at work is too slow to use for research. My coworker called me and asked if I was OK.

"Of course. Why?"

"Apparently there have been some events in the city," he said. He knew the location, near the Hotel Alai, a couple of blocks down from where I was, but didn't know what happened or why.

He was trying to call people closer to the scene to see if they knew anything. In the meantime, some of our staff were heading home early.

Everyone once in a while, someone would pop into the internet cafe and talk about the news. With time, I started to hear the word "shooting."

I marveled at the primitiveness of the oral information network. There is no news chanel to turn to, people just talk to others and see what they've heard.

Only when I heard another patron ask another, "What time was the shooting today?", I asked him if he knew what happened and he directed me to a Russian-language webpage (

There I read that there was in fact a shooting, with automatic weapons, and that it was somehow related to Bayaman, the most renowned bandit of the south and also a government deputy. This is the third incident related to him in the past week alone. And of course, those are only the incidents I actually hear about.

Last week, two of my coworkers, a European and a local, ending up running from a crowd while in the Kyrgyz-Uzbek border town of Kara-Suu. I found out today while I was in Kara-Suu that the cause of the uprising was a group of vendors who revolted against the market owner (a brother of Bayaman) and put another owner in his place.

"Why did they revolt?" I asked the driver, who looked like a friendly version of Saddam Hussein.

"Because he didn't treat people well. He raised the rent and he threatened to take their goods if they were late in paying for the guards."

"How did so many people organize?" I asked.

"That's the question," he said. "They organized very fast and I don't know how they did it."

"Isn't Bayaman mad?" I asked. "Is there a risk he'll do something?"

"Of course he's mad, but he's in Bishkek."

A few days before there, there was a disturbance of protestors with clubs at the local administration building. A local financial leader told me that Bakiev (the president's) followers were sparring with Bayaman's followers, who wanted different people appointed as mayor. The mayor is appointed by deputies and acccording to this man, "Bayaman has already started putting pressure on the deputies to pick the people he wants."

The government decided to postpone the selection of the mayor until after the July 10th presidential elections.

It seems there are powerful people with money exploiting the poor and using them as protestors and implementors of their own interests.

I had debated between two routes to the internet cafe. If I'd chosen the second, I would have gone through that area just shortly after the shooting happened. I've never been to this hotel, but the Australian who recently stayed with Nigora and Shavkat and I spent his first evening there.

Now that it's been a few hours, news is coming out. It's now on the front page of Soon it will just be another news feature, that worries, excities, and then disappears into the stacks of prior events.


Anonymous said...

u can find english version of news on

Don in USA said...

You are a fine wordsmith, vividly allowing me to see and gain some understanding through your eyes relative to Kyrgyzstan's culture and time of transition. I have read all of your entries and look forward to more. I commend your efforts.

jj said...

Thanks for the English site. That's very helpful. And thanks Don for the comment and encouragement. It's always nice to know that someone is reading.