About the expedition

Monday, 5 July 2010

Political situation

  Kyrgyzstan sits between Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and China. It is one of the most ethnically diverse of the central asian nations and predominantly muslim with a secular constitution.

In April 2010 (a few days after John booked our flights!) protesters against government corruption and closure of media outlets took to the streets of Bishkek, the nations capital. We watched as the President Kurmanbek Bakiyev was ousted, fleeing to his parent's house and finally abroad. At least 88 people died, many more were injured and an interim government was appointed.

The country quietened down, with rioting grinding to a halt but not before some baffling details about Bakiyev emerged. It turned out that he had a private zoo, complete with a pair of snow leopards and two bear cubs. A golden eagle, two falcons, four African peacocks, an ostrich, swans (black and white) and some Indian ducks were amongst the animals seized. Almost immediately afterwards rumours of a pair of spare wives emerged, further fuelling the speculation that the man was utterly off his rocker. On the day he left several million (£200m according to some) vanished from the country's coffers.

Once the smoke had cleared we grew less uneasy about the wisdom of travelling there. Trouble flared up again in June, this time in Osh, over existing ethnic tension between the majority Kyrgys and the minority Uzbeks. Though far from our intended destination we watched with trepidation. These petered out after a few days and the country has been out of the news since then, except for a referendum in June which went ahead without a hitch. Touchwood.

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