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Foreign Policy: Alive With Gunfire In Bishkek

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A car burns during an anti-government protest in Bishkek on April 7, 2010. Vyacheslav Oseledko/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption Vyacheslav Oseledko/AFP/Getty Images
anti-government protest

A car burns during an anti-government protest in Bishkek on April 7, 2010.

Vyacheslav Oseledko/AFP/Getty Images

Every man knew his place in Kurmanbek Bakiyev's Bishkek. The street sweeper never looked into the eyes of the businessman with a gold watch. If you drove a clapped-out Soviet car, you always let those in shiny SUVs overtake you. The shopkeepers turned their noses up at farmers hawking what they can and everybody pulled back when the Bakiyev clan grabbed what it wanted. Ordinary Kyrgyz were reserved and powerless, not knowing their own strength. This was Bishkek early on Wednesday morning. As people worked and criss-crossed though quiet leafy avenues, nobody knew that Bakiyev's rule might be in its final hours. Nobody would have believed that, for two blood-soaked days and two nights alive with gunfire, they would see society itself eclipsed in the darkness of revolutionary anarchy.

A roar of banging metal, screams and shouting is approaching. Passersby stop in their tracks. People had heard rumors of riots in the provinces but their eyes swell with shock as they see what is marching forwards. Hundreds of men are on the move. Their eyes have turned to glares. Men enter this mob as shopkeepers, drivers or factory workers — only to lose themselves in the surge. They are moving as one body, copying each other as they pick up the rhythmic chants and grab rocks to hurl at police. A man in a gas mask is waving an AK-47. All work has stopped. Shop fronts are being boarded up...

...See the rest of Foreign Policy's article and their slide show of the chaos in Kyrgyzstan.

"Freedom or Death!"

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