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Old problems, New Barriers

16 luglio 2010

Astana Fencing Off Kyrgyzstan

Following the spring unrest in Kyrgyzstan, Astana has constructed a new barrier along portions of its southern border. Kazakh officials say the fence will keep out smugglers.

The coils of concertina wire abut a major East-West highway near Tokmok. In one place, the new border demarcation divides a Kyrgyz gas station from the road, leaving it rusting in a no-man’s-land.

Tensions with Astana flared after the April 7 uprising in Bishkek. In response, Astanaunilaterally closed the border for weeks, doing untold damage to Kyrgyzstan’s economy.

Some have speculated that construction of the fence was a condition of membership in the newCustoms Union among Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus.

In an episode eerily similar to the regular violence along the Uzbek-Kyrgyz border, a shoot-out near a Kazakh-Kyrgyz frontier post left two dead earlier this week. The Kyrgyz shepherds were attempting to illegally export horses, Kazakh border officials said.


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