Two years ago in early April thousands took to the streets in the city center of Bishkek infuriated over corruption in government, soaring utility bills and unresponsive leadership. Groups seized the Ministry of the Interior building, the state broadcasting building. The government responded by deploying hundreds of troops who shot dead dozens of protesters. Many more were injured.
Hundreds gathered this year for the anniversary. There was no violence. There were speeches. There were flowers laid at the foot of a statue to commemorate the dead and wreaths hung from the iron fence around the White House. And above all of it was the Kyrgyz flag, snapping insistently in gusts of early April wind.
The view from my kitchen window of the Tian Shan on the edge of Bishkek before city haze obscures the peaks.
The ceremony of the military is an international ballet. The costumes, the orchestrated and precise moves, the focus, the dedication to form. These two are in front of the historical museum in the city’s main square, Ala-Too. At the top of every hour a trio of soldiers struts in precise choreography to perform The Changing of the Guard. They are boys in long coats, white gloves and black tall boots. They carry big guns and wear fuzzy hats. One soldier calls out the moves as these two descend the stairs and a new pair ascends.
If you click on this live webcam trained onto Ala-Too, you are afforded an aerial view of part of the square; the soldiers are in a small enclosure at the base of the large flagpole bearing the red-and-yellow Kyrgyz national flag. The soldiers also have a cameo in Bommalatam, a music video showcasing a jinky set of moves by dancing duo Srikanth and Sneha as they gyrate in front of a buffet of Bishkek monuments. The clip is from Bose, a 1984 Tamil Indian action film.