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Thursday, April 8, 2010

Kyrgyzstan Coup d'Etat

When going on exotic travels, one must be ready for inoculations, a strike involving some aspect of the French transport system, or a coup.  Not exactly, but close.  We are leaving on April 22nd.  Tomorrow I am getting a series of vaccinations, and if I am standing around a lot, people will know that the shots weren’t in my arm.  Lufthansa (the airline we are flying), instead of Air France, is threatening to go on strike. And, it appears that there has just been a coup d'état in Kyrgyzstan.

If you go to the US State Department website and look up Kyrgyzstan, you would think this is a happy democracy with a government focused on economic growth and privatization.  Nothing you read there would lead you to expect what just happened:  popular demonstrations against the regime after sharp increases in electrical costs, shooting in the town square resulting in the death of more the 75 people, the president and his family fleeing their residence with carpets and other do-dads, a female former foreign minister, Roza Otunbayeva, heading a provisional government, and looting and more violence though the night.  

The US embassy is still working, though it closed for public business earlier today. As of this writing the State Department has not issued any travel warnings. Near the Manas International Airport, about 25 km from Bishkek, the US Air Transit Station, which handled the transit of more than 50,000 U.S. and allied troops to Afghanistan in March, is still operating and providing some medical supplies for local hospitals. 

We are traveling with the alumni group from Mr. Wonderful’s Alma Mater.  They have contracted the trip details with a company called MIR.  In Russian, MIR [spelled Мир] means the “world” and it also means “peace.”  I hope that, by the time we are driving from Almaty to Bishkek, that part of the Мир will experience Мир and that so many people will not have died for nothing.

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