Across Continents

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More troubled times

Scant evidence of the recent troubles to beset Bishkek. A few burnt out buildings, boarded up windows, little else. Floral tributes to the fallen long since removed. Broken glass swept away. A city at peace once more. Cosmetically at least. Nothing to as much suggest the loss of over eighty lives amongst the protestors, or sporadic looting in the centre.

Bullet hole

Little to show of the ransacking of the White House Presidential residence, just a few buckled bars in the wrought iron entrance gates, the remnants of an old barricade, a few bullet holes to peer through. Smoke damage that had been visible around the upper floor windows scrubbed clean. Burnt out cars scattered around the rear of the building removed.

Prosecutors office

In the centre of the city, only the Prosecutor’s Office, a few minutes from the White House, still showed any real signs of the destruction that had been inflicted by the crowds venting their anger and frustration at the then Government. But you’d be forgiven for mistaking the damage as being the result of an unfortunate accident, not a deliberate act.

Boarded shop

Whilst Government buildings had borne the brunt of the protestors wrath, there had been widespread opportunistic looting of shops and businesses, largely focused on those owned by the former President’s family. A few premises still remained boarded up, the odd window yet to be repaired. But otherwise little to suggest what had happened a few months previously.

Sons house

The former President’s son’s house had also been targeted by protestors, ransacked and set ablaze. But even it too was slowly being rebuilt, discretely behind high wooden gates. Destined, it appeared, to become a home for disabled children.

Rebuild

Order had been restored, in the Capital at least. But there was nothing to suggest this was a new administration stamping its authority, or a Soviet style airbrushing of history, erasing all traces of a past best forgotten. Simply a gentle return to normality. A single workman sitting precariously above the shell of a burnt out shopping mall, slowly restoring one of the few sights that gave any clue to recent events. The People had spoken.

[With especial thanks to Esther for hosting me, and being so generous with her time, acting as my guide around the city, sharing her collection of images taken around the centre of Bishkek in the immediate aftermath of the uprising]

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