A Revolution. Here and Now.

Trip Start Jan 27, 2010
Trip End Feb 28, 2011

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Flag of Kyrgyzstan  ,
Friday, April 9, 2010

There have been rumours about a new revolution, or at least serious demonstrations, here in Bishkek for a while. At least once, about a month ago, the date was already supposed to be set, but people were joking that it was cancelled and postponed due to rainy weather. However, not even the rainy weather was to stop them this time. I woke up on Wednesday at noon (thanks to the time difference and Champions League - hate the way Arsenal lost, but can't really hate Messi) when my friend, who is working at the UN, sent me an text message that a big group of demonstrators was marching towards the centre and they were serious this time. I didn’t know if I should be worried or something, until I heard the news from the Talas demonstrations on Tuesday evening and realized that’s why the internet wasn’t working in the evening. I was also warned that the internet could be cut off again, as well as the electricity and mobile phone network.

Eventually the internet was cut off only in the evening but mobile phones and the electricity kept working all the time, but I started sensing that something was wrong when I went to change some money and all the currency exchange offices were all closed and some of the shops were closing as well. In the afternoon I started hearing explosions and gunfire and saw some smoke coming from the Ala-Too Square (the central square in Bishkek). In the evening I also had a walk near the centre and some streets looked really bad and chaotic: buildings or cars on fire, people running and screaming, some trying to hide laptops under their jackets. All the shops and pretty much everything you can image was closed in the centre and you couldn’t really find anything to buy except maybe cigarettes or chewing gum from some small stalls. The night was also a bit restless and despite the 22.00 curfew, gunshots were heard until one o’clock, maybe even later.

Our lessons at the university were cancelled for Thursday and Friday so went for a walk to the centre on Thursday morning. Everything appeared pretty calm, but you could surely see yesterday’s devastation with all the smashed shop windows and empty shops. The presidential palace, the White House was also completely occupied by the protestors and there were a lot of people inside and around the building, but they didn’t seem aggressive and most of them had just come to see what had happened. A bit farther from the central square and the White House you could already find some shops to buy something to eat, even the shop next to my apartment was     open, though they closed again well before the dusk.

Closing the shops turned out to be a good idea again, as the storming mob just appeared again from somewhere in the evening and there were more shootings again. I also heard the they raided some rich people’s houses around the city in the evening. The good thing however, was that it was the first time since Wednesday afternoon that I saw a policeman again, or actually several police and army trucks heading to the centre.

Today has again been pretty peaceful and I even had my Russian lessons at the private language school where I’ve been going a couple of times a week for a month now. Let’s see what happens next. I think we’ve already seen the worst of it, unless the (ex-)president Bakiev is willing to stay in power and manages to find himself enough support from the south, but it seems quite unlikely now.
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