The following was posted for the Sustainable Cities Collective, a global site covering urbanism and sustainable development of urban spaces.
Bishkek, capital of the ex-Soviet republic of Kyrgyzstan with a population of approximately 1 million (though no one knows for sure – that is a different story), is notoriously dark at night, considering its population density and streetlighting infrastructure. Many bulbs have been out for years, leaving huge swaths of the city off its several main streets in the dark after sunset. Few seem to associate the lack of street lighting with an increase in street crime, which everyone acknowledges has risen precipitously over the past two decades of independence.
Continue reading Citizen Journalism in Kyrgyzstan’s Capital
The ongoing trials of those indicted for crimes related to labor strikes in the western Kazakhstan city of Zhanaozen appear unlikely to answer questions about the country’s domestic security policy, or prevent repeat incidents. While President Nazarbayev has declared that the striking workers were acting within their rights, and his ambassador to the U.S. insists that the trials will vindicate Kazakhstan’s progress towards the rule of law, the proceedings appear to demonstrate otherwise. Prosecutors have cast a wide net that entangles striking workers, local activists, opposition politicians, and vague foreign instigators in the plot to destabilize social order in the country.
Continue reading Zhanaozen Trials Set to Leave Many Unanswered Questions
Officials in Kyrgyzstan appear to be of two minds about the country’s gambling industry.
Until a ban came into force on January 1, the sector was booming, relatively speaking. The injunction, drawn up under former Prime Minister Almazbek Atambayev (now president) and his deputy prime minister, Omurbek Babanov (now prime minister), was, they said until a few weeks ago, necessary to crack down on organized crime. Now the Atambayev-Babanov tandem seems to think allowing some gambling could burnish their pro-business credentials.
Continue reading Gambling in Kyrgyzstan: The Thirty-Day Itch