In the small rural village of Svetlaya Polyana, not far from the city of Karakol in Issyk Kul Province, north-eastern Kyrgyzstan, there is no sewage system and 70 percent of households lack access to hot water.
Arslanbek Maliyev grew disillusioned with Islam when he realised foreign missionaries who came to Kyrgyzstan following the collapse of the Soviet Union were more concerned with building mosques than they were with education.
Victory Day on May 9 was an occasion for Russians to indulge in patriotic flag waving in Moscow. Russian President Vladimir Putin used the previous day to muster a show of diplomatic support for his efforts to bring formerly Soviet states closer together.
Russian President Vladimir Putin signed legislation recently offering fast-track citizenship to Russian speakers anywhere within the former Soviet Union.
Relative to other Central Asian states, Kyrgyzstan has a fairly free and perennially noisy domestic media scene. Even so, Kyrgyz outlets tend to be no match for Russian state-controlled media when it comes to establishing narratives for current events.
Russia’s state-run oil giant Rosneft wants to purchase a majority stake in the state-controlled company that owns all of Kyrgyzstan’s civilian airports.
It is a tough climb to the weather station: The trail leads across snow-covered boulder fields and steep, icy slopes. But for four researchers from Kyrgyzstan’s Geology and Mineral Resources Agency, the six-hour climb to the Adygene Glacier weather station, perched at 3,600 meters above sea level, is routine. From there, they can monitor 18 growing lakes at the glacier snout in the mountains above Bishkek.
Kara-Keche, a sprawling deposit containing about 430 million tonnes of coal in mountainous Naryn Province, is a key asset for Kyrgyzstan’s struggling economy.
It starts out like any gymnastics class: A teacher guides a roomful of women through stretching and breathing exercises. The yoga, ballet and tai chi moves train pelvic muscles, the stomach and legs.
The Year of the Snake has been full of unpleasant surprises for Chinese living in Kyrgyzstan. Against a backdrop of rising economic nationalism and weak law enforcement, Chinese migrants complain they’re being targeted for robberies and extortion, especially by law-enforcement officers who are supposed to protect them.
A generation after independence from the Soviet Union, most villages in Kyrgyzstan are ramshackle, broken places, scenes of hopelessness and despair. Able young people leave – for Bishkek, the capital, or for menial jobs in Russia. But thanks to a secret gold mine, one little mountain hamlet is different.
The Kumtor gold mine is Kyrgyzstan's lone economic gem. Yet, despite the mine’s vital importance to the Kyrgyz economy, officials appear to be mulling a doomsday option for the Canadian-run project.
Almost five years ago, as his village in northern Kyrgyzstan endured daily power outages, rays of light always emitted from Sabyr Kurmanov’s garage. They came from his egg incubator, a 12-volt contraption powered by something he and his neighbours have in abundance – wind.
In 2010, Kyrgyzstan tried to promote good governance and reduce corruption by attaching public watchdogs to major ministries and state agencies. Almost three years later, the watchdogs are still functioning, but many express frustration about bureaucratic resistance that hinders their ability to do their jobs.
With Westerners now leery of investing in Kyrgyzstan, it is perhaps inevitable that officials in Bishkek turn to China as they try to attract capital for infrastructure development.