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№23 December 2013

Your rarely published guide to what’s happening in and around Bishkek




Riding Kazakhstan

Person of the


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Alpinist (Embassies and Organisations) The UN building. Hyatt. Golden Dragon. Celestial Mountains. Dennis Keen. Cyclone. The Bishkek Opera & Ballet Society. Glavtour. The End Loco Motion Want to contribute as a freelance writer? Please contact: editor@thespektator. Santa Maria. Dina Tokbaeva. Meri. Jika T. Full listings available on the website. Dolce Vita. Bella Italia (Casinos) Europa. Editor: Tom Wellings (editor@thespektator. Golden The Spektator is now online at www. Kol-Tor. Palmer . Boulevard. Charles Carlson Wagonlit.thespektator. Doka. Tom Tweedy Guest Contributor: Adriane Lochner Design: Hvare Firouzeh Focus This Month News and Views Kyrgyzstan is making organic apple juice. Navigator. Holly Myers. Adeline Bell.Kyrgyz Concept. Ak-Sai Travel. No1. The Ghosts of the Mountains 4 The last time we checked in on the snow leopard’s progress was in our ninth Spektator . CAMP Ala-too. Lounge Patrick Barrow takes a testing train ride from Kustani to somewhere. Kyrgyz Travel. Some well-known spots have been taken out of this month’s edition with new spots added. Adriane Lochner meets the people who spend their lives trying to preserve the world’s most elusive cat. All this in addition to our editorial. Thomas Staff writers: Ben Rich. Clubs All the best bars and clubs in town. are you reading this? The Spektator Magazine Non-News Founder: Tom Wellings Catchin’ up with Coolio Coolio has been busy since he was first sighted sayin’ prayers in the streetlight in 1995. Bars.One Steppe Ahead Contents Our feature article sees those Spektator cads Jamie and Matt off on another jolly jaunt. Metro. Alice Janvrin. Coffeehouse. New York Pizza. The German Embassy. The Dutch Consulate. Person of the Year Aida! Aida! Aida! Aida Salyanova is easily the sauciest general prosecutor in the post-Soviet Fatboy’s. including: (Travel Agencies) Adventure Seller. Muza. Sergei Vysotsky. Stary Edgar’s Veranda. 12 16 18 8 Out & About Kicking it at Kol-Tor 10 City Map 11 Following our hike through Ala-Archa in Issue 22 we go a little bit further off the beaten track with a trek to the stunning alpine lake.thespektator. NoviNomad (Bars & Restaurants) Hollywood. XO (Hotels) Dostuk. The Guide Restaurants. Kazakhstan is making combatting violence against women a priority and Germany is making accusations that Tajikistan’s ruling family is driving its stolen cars. so we thought it was time for an update. Is this where the Spektator gets off? 22 26 ON THE COVER: Nothing to see but steppe (Matt Travers) THE The Spektator Magazine is available at locations throughout Bishkek. The Spektator pretends to interview him after his recent gig in Bishkek. Don’t get lost. NCCR. 2x2. Four Seasons. Holiday. James Maddison. Robert Marks. Uzbekistan is making cutting edge theatre. this time on horseback across the eastern Kazakh steppe. The American base. She also reminds us of a cracking musical we once went to see. Live Bar. Jamie Bunchuk Patrick Barrow.

bazaars teem with juicy peaches.$200 million a year over a five-to-seven-year period -. is already primed for entry. mostly produced in China. the business advisory services coordinator at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) December2013 The Spektator CHRIS RICKLETON BISHKEK. we have given out our prestigious Person of the Year award (Time magazine eat your heart out) and provided a very important update on international efforts to save the snow leopard.” That “cheap Chinese component” is often a default preference for new businesses in Kyrgyzstan. It also went to see Coolio. This is a man that made two hits that anyone can remember and has spent the rest of his ‘career’ womanizing. with its high import tariffs. the challenge will be to produce enough juice to meet demand.” Zhunushov told EurasiaNet. The Customs Union. “Currently if a small company is trying to build a factory they can choose between expensive. an open-ended hibernation. inhaling illicit substances and basking in the fading memory of a former glory. peppering the world-weary tourist magazine with taunts about its outdated restaurant guide.4 This Month The Bum that Could Kyrgyzstan: Entrepreneurial Class Debates Customs Union “Value Added” Once upon a time the slumbering ugly that is the Spektator was nodding off in the dark depths of a faraway land called Panfilov park. Nelly and Craig David had visited the city in close succession and the only institution capable of making merciless fun of their sold out. fearful that their country won’t find a niche within the club. In an interview with the Russian television station Mir on August 30. as well as compensate local businesses affected negatively by accession. But with a weak economy and foreign investors frightened by chronic political instability. live to avoid the sharp edge of Spektator satire? Thus. Omuraliev is part of a new generation of entrepreneurs that “start from nil. on the other side of the Custom Union’s barbed-wire fence. richer markets outside the country – would be able to take a step in the right direction. Bishkek and Coolio were made for each other! Anyhow. tomatoes. the Spektator hauled itself out of intended exile.. New food processors such as EcoProduct Asia have benefited from generous tax breaks. Omuraliev. fifty years old and still partial to crack cocaine. but which currently often go to waste. the entrepreneur whose EcoProduct Asia makes juice extracted from domestic fruits. beverages and tobacco help diversify the economy using source materials that are already in abundance.” for entrepreneurs. washing away the ill-gotten gains of the country’s beezness class. President Almazbek Atambayev restated his commitment to entering the Customs Union. adding that expects sales to “double if not triple” in . excellent quality materials and equipment from Europe.” Still. if you ever get there. featuring both horse rides and train rides through the physical and philosophical wilderness of the Kazakh steppe. such as textiles. perhaps even pre-historic experience that made it glad its grandfathers had never tried to grow their hair out in braids or perform tracks like I Like Girls. “No Kvartira 148. it had a point. Last month the chairman of the Russian State Duma’s Committee for CIS Integration. He contrasts today’s businessmen with those who got rich during the initial post-Soviet privatization rush. By contrast. apples and all sorts of melons. Now the plentiful spirit teased it with the news that Coolio. “Has Coolio still got it?” folks that will remain anonymous for the sake of their own credibility were heard asking in the build-up to the show. too. So convinced was it that its work in the city was done. anticipating a “difficult adjustment Soon thereafter. will increase the cost for both options and “restrict choice. The sector has grown 300 percent in the last 10 years and accounted for 14 percent of total industrial production in when we begin production again. despite government messaging to the contrary. said Kydyrbaev. The World Bank lists Kyrgyzstan as Central Asian country with the highest dependence on trade relative to GDP.” www. a protectionist trade block that also includes Belarus and Kazakhstan. Kyrgyz officials. he agrees that innovative startups such as EcoProduct Asia – by linking farmers to larger. a former head of the Bishkek Business Club. half an hour from Bishkek and three hours from his main export market. “In May next year. Omuraliev refused to give turnover figures but said about 20 percent of his sales are in Kazakhstan. Opponents of accession in Bishkek point out that all three countries have stronger. cigarette butts. In addition to those sorties. “When it comes to growing fruits and other primary products. revenues from re-exported consumer goods. particularly the excellent new Russian-language website enot. But Kydyrbaev argues that the majority of new and would-be Kyrgyz producers will be better off outside the Customs Union than inside it.would help the government create “growth spots” and “new value added” in the economy. surrounded by rotting leaves. The requested aid -. For much of the year. Kyrgyzstan remains a nation of poor farmers and traders hawking products produced elsewhere. too. “Is this your legacy?” the spirit chided. Once processed and packaged into colorful three-liter boxes of organic apple juice. Economics Minister Temir Sariev said Kyrgyzstan needs over $1 billion in aid from members to smooth over potential bumps in the accession process. Fat Cat Café or Barsuk? Adriatico got renamed Giorgo’s and then destroyed by a tree! Where the hell have you been all this time?” Aside from the fact that the plentiful spirit was far too lazy to get up off its arse and write some reviews. an historic. a large part of this value is often lost. Even as the local economy toiled new eateries had popped up around the city like mushrooms after a rainstorm. would be rapping his way to a pension plan in Bishkek. Sariev added that another $215 million was necessary to bring Kyrgyzstan’s border infrastructure into line with Customs Union standards. it prepared for the longest sleep of its fiveyear life. Bishkek has recognized that the production of food. That’s “bad for innovation. more industrialized economies. or cheap affordable equipment and materials from China. according to Bishkek-based economist Roman Mogilevski. perhaps the last of many. has taken on a new dynamic as Bishkek negotiates to enter the Russia-led Customs Union. empty bottles of vodka and obsolete fairground attractions. He claims to have had interest from Russia. are asking forconcessions with generous grace periods on over 1. “they can compete anywhere. merry-go-rounds and spinning teacups. he said. December 12 (Eurasianet) . turning Kyrgyzstan’s natural abundance into exportable goods is difficult. many of which are Chinese inputs essential for its own light industries. is more cautious about Customs Union entry.Sitting in his office. Dastan Omuraliev voices lots of confidence in his new startup: “Kyrgyzstan has some of the best fruits and vegetables in the world. surrounded by marketing materials. in Kyrgyzstan. flitting between the shashlyk stands. Some of them had bankrupted themselves before they had even had a chance to enter the guide’s hallowed pages. he said. told Kyrgyz MPs they were being greedy. Worse still. washed-up celebrity in print had passed up the opportunity. in Kazakhstan.” he said it was now “time to think of the future” by developing homemade industries and services ahead of Customs Union entry. Best Wishes to all for the New Year! We will CU when you get there.” says Uluk Kydyrbaev. a prominent lobby. The debate over domestic productivity. They think in terms of globalization and the mass possibilities it offers. Vechernii Bishkek reported on November 25. Leonid Slutsky.000 products. Would he. went to a bunch of new grub houses and adapted reviews for the rest by consulting with friends and local “steakholders” (Matthew Stowerbridge™). The quandary for Bishkek is that Customs Union membership is expected to curtail the country’s re-export trade. Overwhelmingly. Since August his company has processed 16 tons of local apples per day using Austrian equipment at their factory in Shopokov.” he Almaty. But all that changed when it was rudely awakened by a plentiful spirit.” he says.. “Today’s [entrepreneurs] have a wider compass. generate upwards of 15 percent of GDP.thespektator. Noting that re-exporting Chinese products to Kazakhstan and Russia had helped the country “survive through difficult times. according to the National Statistics Committee. Bakai Zhunushov. apart from catching up with Coolio (not difficult now that he is fifty) Kyrgyzstan’s favourite tourist mag has a vaguely Kazakh theme this month. … A big part of the harvest is spoiled before it is sold.” he told EurasiaNet. Did he ever have it? We are not talking about Bob Dylan and the Never Ending Tour here. who tend to lack significant start-up capital.” Few visitors to Kyrgyzstan would dispute Omuraliev’s claim about the country’s produce. or lack thereof.

the Ilkhom Theater still enjoys total artistic freedom: “There is no censorship in our theater. Ilkhom’s assistant general manager. recalls Bharat: “He had a dress rehearsal of the show on September 6. and remained so in independent Uzbekistan.” Irina Bharat.” The award-winning Russian-language theater has gone from strength to strength.” were reportedly his last words.thespektator. In their self-proclaimed capacity as morality police.Sex and drugs are not often publicly discussed in Uzbekistan. an audience was riveted by a show – written by Russian playwright Yuriy Klavdiyev and titled Rain Behind the Wall – exploring the grittier side of urban life. and on September 7 we were supposed to open the season. of course. But are they not apprehensive about the future? “Of course we look over our shoulders at what could happen to our home. and from foreign donors’ and “for him. the crime was perpetrated in protest over the portrayal of the Prophet Muhammad in the play Imitating the Koran. and raising the message to the troupe: the show must go on. One such oasis is the Ilkhom Theater of Mark Weil. the government has taken quick action to attack outside influencesdeemed corrosive to society’s cohesion. by Russian literary giants Chekhov and Pushkin. Ilkhom receives no state subsidies and generates revenue from sales of tickets and merchandise. and its survival represents a triumph over adversity. It also runs a theater school and an arthouse cinema club. including domestic violence and homosexuality.” Ilkhom’s wide-ranging repertoire goes far beyond provocative performances on contemporary themes. one can occasionally come across an oasis of free expression. It is a grim story about sexual abuse of males and females in a family wracked by alcoholism and also featuring drug addiction. by western writers like Norway’s Henrik Ibsen and Italy’s Carlo Gozzi. no tragic accident. The theater was founded by renowned actor and director Mark Weil. and that was the most we could do for Mark Weil – and we showed everyone. “I don’t think we’ll ever know [the truth]. The action is set in Russia – but the setting is familiar to audiences anywhere in the former Soviet Union. Despite flashes of comedy. a Greek tragedy about vengeance and death. December 19 (Eurasianet) . from its small cafe. Weil’s colleagues have always believed his general tendency to produce trailblazing works. a time when then-Communist Party boss Leonid Brezhnev was presiding over the Soviet Union’s Stagnation Era. ourselves first of all. and everything must happen. and by writers from Uzbekistan such as the Soviet-era Abdulla Qodiriy. “This was. officials have railed against western imports such as rap music. hosts festivals such as IlkhomRockFest. was a major factor in his death at the age of 55. “But on the other hand you can’t be afraid all the time. the work also touches on the topics of police brutality.” Weil was stabbed to death right before the opening of a new season at the theater. and the modern-day Sukhbat Aflatuni. Elsewhere in Uzbekistan. she says.” When the performers get together.” December 2013 The Spektator . and political disenchantment. because no-one expected that something like [Weil’s death] could happen to us. and his willingness to challenge the status quo. Russian and western canon.” Bharat explained. that we could do it. Three men were tried and received lengthy prison terms in 2010 for Weil’s murder. His dissident voice and maverick tastes were thorns in the sides of Soviet-era authorities. And if those themes were not heavy enough.This Month 5 Uzbekistan: Cutting-Edge Theater Surviving in Tashkent JOANNA LILLIS TASHKENT.” It is Weil’s legacy that keeps driving the theater forward. Six years on. But even in such a tightly controlled environment. It includes classics from the Uzbek. Taking a look at the dark underbelly of society. “I think the idea was that the theater should die. Bharat says that. he conveyed a www. “I open a new season tomorrow. if there was no Mark Weil. Oresteia. told EurasiaNet. there were no impossible things. economic hardship. No one comes and tells us what we can and can’t do. The actors swiftly opened the 2007/2008 season with Weil’s last production. In the scenario presented by prosecutors. There are works by 15th-century Turkic writer and Uzbek hero Alisher Navoi. continuing to slice through stereotypes and produce shows that examine what are generally offlimits topics in Uzbekistan.” says Bharat. despite this repressive environment. It has been smashing taboos since its foundation in 1976. After the rehearsal he went home and he was killed by the entrance to his apartment block. and stages art exhibitions in its lobby – an important venue for artists in a country where the public modern art is discouraged. while frowning upon what they perceive as the influences of cultural imperialism such as Santa Claus and Valentine’s in an interview in the theater’s cheerful coffee bar before a performance. the performance is grueling for actors and audience members alike. where the state casts itself as a guardian of traditional values.” Bharat acknowledged. is nothing new for the Ilkhom Theater. a work based on a poem by Alexander Pushkin: it is a hypothesis that many find hard to swallow. as well as sex and substance abuse. “We expended all our heartfelt efforts for the theater not to die. a Tashkent stage with a long tradition of producing alternative works. where political freedoms are repressed and censorship is tight. Weil’s towering presence still looms over the theater. who was brutally murderedin 2007 in Tashkent. On a recent evening. going ahead although “absolutely everyone was afraid.” Before he died in the hospital. corruption. then his theater should The late Mark Weil (ArtsRightsJustice. Members of the troupe (numbering about 25 actors plus 25 support staff ) call Ilkhom a “home” – for performers and audience alike. “the first toast is always for Mark Weil.

which began November 25 and concluded December 10. end up in the official records. At Heilmann’s request. too: They say hundreds of luxury cars in Tajikistan have been stolen off German streets and are being used by the president and his relatives. locked her daughters into a bedroom and stabbed her to death. the ensuing traffic jams cause a fair amount of grumbling.797 violent crimes against women were registered. and training for law-enforcement. so “not all women talk about this.000 to charity. and healthcare professionals. In connection with the annual global Say NO campaign. fined and fired. somewhere along the way. a rural mayor in northern Kazakhstan. whereas a rise might have December2013 The Spektator been expected with a new legal mechanism in place. former Foreign Minister Hamrokhon Zarifi at the last minute refused to visit Berlin. There were 509 convictions in 2012. she was promoted to deputy prime minister. Even when women go to the police. Turmaganbetov was prosecuted.” Tajikistan’s President Drives Stolen German Cars . December 10 (Eurasianet) .German Media DAVID TRILLING December 19. to no avail: The Tajik authorities refuse to return the stolen cars. Some 20. he wrote a letter to the German Foreign Ministry in which he noted that most of these stolen cars now belong to “people who are connected to the president of Tajikistan by economic and familial ties. and some major cities – including Almaty – do not have designated shelters. “It is a social problem. citing the German tabloid Bild. No doubt.” One landmark in the fight to raise awareness was the passing of a law against domestic violence in 2009. and donated $10. It turns out.” reports Bild. an NGO. Most disturbingly. according to Bild. reports Deutsche Welle. Podrugi lobbied Astana to set up a nationwide network of state-funded shelters for victims of domestic violence. When Podrugi was set up 15 years ago. Last year.thespektator.” Abdykalikova said in February. an “alarmed” President Nazarbayev singled out the issue as one in need of attention. “Violence is not a private problem. According to data from the General-Prosecutor’s Office Legal Statistics Committee. The stigma of reporting it is great. “in many cases” incidents of domestic violence.000 had turned to Kazakhstan’s 28 crisis centers. against 988 in 2009 – a 48 percent drop that is far greater than the 12-percent fall in reported crimes. the national Statistics Agency’s report on crime against women in 2012 said 13. head of the National Commission for Women’s Affairs and Family Demographic Policy. although convictions on lesser charges can skew the numbers. and 11. complaints are often dropped for reasons ranging from family pressure to financial dependence on the alleged perpetrator. because it goes beyond the boundaries of the family. Legal amendments to tighten it up and offer victims more support are currently making their way through parliament. There have long been detailed rumors in Dushanbe’s Western diplomatic community that many of the luxury cars plying Dushanbe’s streets were stolen in Europe (and traded. But the grumbling is not confined to Dushanbe. no one wants to tell Rakhmon that he has to pony up for his own Benz. if the reports are true.” Tatyana Usmanova of the Center for Supporting Women. 285 women died in domestic-violencerelated incidents. These testimonies were collected by the Podrugi (Girlfriends) Crisis Center in Almaty. Paradoxically. www. Some victims do not survive. And in last year’s state-of-the-nation address. Another violent incident occurred in “Society is very tolerant toward domestic violence. Tajik officials are ignoring the appeals. Botabayev was forced to resign as a member of Kazinvestbank’s board and blacklisted by Air Astana – after which he apologized to his victim bearing a bouquet of flowers. Podrugi representatives suggest that one-fifth of families in Kazakhstan suffer from domestic violence. She is confident that Astana is “now listening to us. According to Bild. as the government intended to include the issue of the stolen cars on the agenda.This Month 6 Kazakhstan: Domestic Violence Rising on Political Agenda JOANNA LILLIS ALMATY.000 women filed police complaints about domestic violence in 2011. against 887 in 2009. and they are with us. And despite Berlin’s repeated requests to redress the issue. Ignoring a problem is pretty much standard operating procedure in Tajikistan’s government. there were 783 registered cases in 2012. Apparently authorities in Berlin are peeved.000 women had sought assistance from special Interior Ministry Units to Protect Women From Violence so far in 2013. punched her several times in the chest and kicked her.” Nadezhda Gladyr. when Kanatbay Turmaganbetov. according to a German media report. The conviction rate for domestic violence crimes appears to have fallen since the law was adopted. according to Gulshara Abdykalikova.When banker Darkhan Botabayev tried to book a flight on Kazakhstan’s national airline last September. or Irina. It is a problem of the state.When police close the roads and President Emomali Rakhmon’s fleet of black Mercedes-Benzes hightails it through Tajikistan’s capital several times each day. told EurasiaNet. education. including 93 BMWs. and that Tajik police officials are unwilling to address the problem. which offers psychological and legal support for victims of violence. (Eurasianet) . like Rashida. Podrugi’s president. “It is important for us human rights defenders who represent women’s rights that the state should play a major role in preventing this violence. who married an abusive man to escape a father who turned violent on her after she was raped at the age of 15 and became pregnant. MPs have spoken out in support of a state role. what started as a routine transaction turned into an assault that shocked the nation: Botabayev lost his temper and punched the young female ticket clerk in the face. Last month. Deputy Interior Minister Kayrat Tynybekov told parliament last year. told a round table in January. Activists’ relentless efforts have helped change public perceptions. instead it was often portrayed as a private family matter. In October. whose husband set fire to her mother’s flat after she fled there to escape further abuse. German investigators have traced approximately 200 stolen German luxury vehicles to Tajikistan. Meanwhile. non-governmental organizations operate a patchy network. took exception to a woman photographing a billboard of President Nursultan Nazarbayev: He summoned her to his office where he “bashed her head against the . official statistics (notoriously unreliable on gender violence in most countries) show that the number of reported crimes has fallen since the law was adopted. they don’t want to air their dirty laundry in public. The disparity between the number of reported crimes and the number of women seeking help is huge: In October parliament heard that 37. but activists point out that they aren’t isolated cases. From Deutsche Welle: When Berlin’s Justice Minister Thomas Heilmann learned of this. former Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle summoned the Tajik in an interview. Take Marina. domestic violence was not acknowledged as a problem or a crime.” according to a local media report. Last year 386 people received custodial sentences (76 percent of convictions). the German Foreign Ministry has repeatedly appealed to the Tajiks on this issue. The organization also is trying to force the issue upKazakhstan’s political agenda. No one knows how many women are victims of domestic violence in Kazakhstan every year. and state shelters are therefore really important to us. found with a knife sticking out of her chest after her husband broke into her safe house. the dispute goes to the highest levels of the Tajik government and that a recent bilateral meeting in Berlin was cancelled because the Tajik foreign minister did not want to deal with the awkward questions. for heroin).” Gladyr said. many assaults against women take place behind closed doors. These incidents caused an outcry in Kazakhstan. however. Only a fraction of those initial complaints. Using GPS technology. At present.

Manas a ve. Manas a oldo ova Tynystan AYA Dvorets Sporta Togolok M SOVETSK Isanova va Koenkozo va Orozbeko Bokonbaeva Tugolbay o Lva Tolstog a Fatianov Isanova Toktogula o k Logvinen Chui Toktogula Moskovskaya Isanova SOVETSK Kievskaya Engelsa Lva Tolstogo Map vardia odaya G Mol a Moloday Gvardia Jolu Jumabe THE MOUNTAINS Jibek k Ryskulova T. Abdymom Kievskaya va Baeto bek Erkind unova l Frunze Michae om Abdym ova Tynystan Juma a Razzakov Erkindik k Jo Jibe Michael Frunze Spartak unov stadium Chui Moskovskaya va Orozbeko a Razzakov AYA SOVETSK Circus Pravda lya Gogo North va lya Gogo va Shopoko Ogonbae Bokonb Moskov Pravda Chui va Shopoko Toktogula aeva Kievskaya AYA A. Usenb o tog s Tol Lva a Elebaev www. Manas a December 2013 The Spektator .

please meet the Princess of Naryn. Salyanova’s car was spotted parked outside a Bishkek beauty salon for a full five hours . in order to treat a disease which turned out to be a mere figment of his imagination. the inspiration for Elton John gyzstan’s general prosecutor. and Tim Rice’s semi-eponymous hit musical. Thanks play Snake on their Nokias (archive) to Aida. the former mayor that allegedly earned a Below Ancient Nubia’s very own General fortune embezzling cheap Chinese buses and the former tax chief whose tax-collecting expertise alProsecutor (archive) legedly made him a multi-millionaire are looking forward to a New Year behind bars. But they won’t hear a word of a doubt or see signs of weakness. to the dance. the Joker and the Penguin (nationalist clowns Japarov and Tashiev) were almost incarcerated. Aida Salyanova. Aida. Salyanova is a bonafide goody locking up some of the baddest baddies around. Aida. instead of this ragged concoction of thread. the following month.” one long-time correspondent for a Bishkek newspaper told the . But perhaps things aren’t so black and white. administering punishments in line with academic theories of asymmetric justice? We respond that you are over-complicating things. Aida. sassier version of dates and a certain nostalgia for nights Stalin’s ‘show trials’ rottweiler Vishinsky. “I still remember her when she was working as a civil servant in the parliament after the Tulip Revolution [2005].is a lifetime of service. apart from bearing a strong resemblance to the primary school teacher that gave it its first stiffy. Nevertheless. two and three-quarter years and three prime ministers on from when Roza Otunbayeva first appointed her in March 2011. Chechnya. the Spektator 2013 Bishkek’s answer to Harvey Dent. it’s enough. Aida. Person of the Year is Aida Salyanova. you say. all we ask of you . it’s enough (Aida. your robe should be golden.all we ask . a political survivor of the highest order. If you can rekindle your ancestors’ dreams. only for a petrified judge to reverse his prior verdict when their supporters started throwing shoes at him. Aida. we still believe in goodies and baddies. It’s enough. and. Now she is prosecutor she has a file on every other politician in the country!” Indeed. in spite of these scandals. But what is Written in the Stars for 41-year-old Salyanova over the next couple of years? A dozen more MPs banged up in the slammer? A $5.000 pedicure? Enough kudos amassed for a tilt at the presidency in 2017? We don’t know. Why has Salyanova stolen the Spektator’s cold. the mob boss that once had half the Kyrgyz underworld and a sizeable portion of the political class wrapped around his December2013 The Spektator little finger escape captivity and travel on a chartered flight to the Gangsta’s Paradise that is Grozny. Your nigh on impossible duty is clear. Oops! Then. into uproar. Salyanova is still General Prosecutor of the Kyrgyz Republic: They don’t call her Teflon Aida for nothing! “Salyanova is a very clever and very strong woman. in London’s West End. Aida. courage. What we do know is that over thirteen years since Aida first lit up Broadway. your robe should be perfect. Aida. She was so young then but knew every law in the book and how to use them. with marginalized peripheries and corrupt cores. Aida. Aida. Dear readers. the lyrics of The Dance of the Robe have never rung truer: Aida. a sexier. and. Aida. Aida. www. a vicious struggle for scarce resources among disparate elites with broadly varying agendas. as the republic’s chief investigator. Kyrgyzstani politics is a dynamic and fluctuating process of conflict and bargaining. especially this year. it’s enough.8 Person of the Year Aida! Aida! Aida! JOHN BERESFORD S HE IS THE SHINING light of the war on Due to a lack of other plausible half of Kyrgyzstan’s graft-ridden Top Salyanova struts her stuff while the lads parliament are now packing their suitcases and pondering an extended vacation in Dubai. Kyrpossibly. Aida. Thanks to Aida. Aida. and perhaps even one on the Spektator. In April she was accused of complicity in a scandal that saw Aziz Batukayev. who aren’t as hot as Aida. The real question is: Has anyone ever looked this foxy in a prosecutor’s uniform before? We do concede that Salyanova’s tenure as general prosecutor has had a few blemishes. wisdom. sarcastic heart this festive season? Well.thespektator. Perhaps Salyanova is just a pawn of the President’s Office. but nothing less will do. as villagers in the region surrounding the Kumtor gold mine waged a pitch battle against riot police. for we’d rather be dead than live in the squalor and shame of the slave to the dance.a discovery that sent a series of politicians. Aida. But may you be moved by its desperate beauty to give us new life. General Prosecutor of the Kyrgyz Republic. To ask more would be selfish. Aida). You know expectations are wild and almost beyond your fulfillment. Thanks to Aida.


It trail brings hikers to an open hilltop overlooking Kol-Tor. For more scenes Above right Hiking up Kegeti Gorge along of the immediate uphill is over the trail hits a fork. but if the area Stephen’s webpage at www.side as it will be significantly drier than the route to The Lowdown: The hike from the Trekking ture everywhere a bit fragrant). And for Navigation: Maps of the Tien-Shan south of grounds!). But when Altyn Arshan or Batken are just too far away. though. or you can continue other than good boots and warm clothes. of Kyrgyzstan’s natural and cultural beauty. If you’re not comfortable hiking Starting from the Kegeti Tour Hut. The hilltop just to the right of where the trail is suitable for anyone with a reasonable level a bright turquoise lake. If the Trekking Union. Just . exit the clearing to follow the river for those more used to sedentary weekend activities. a friends in the foothills of the moun. one last the right.makes it a great day-hike from the capital.10 Out & About Kickin’ It at Kol-Tor We busy working-folk can’t swan off to the countryside for weeks on end like Bishkek’s layabout crusty-backpacker-types. Park.easy access to fresh water.thespektator.road a little further into the mountains until it ends back towards the small bridge on the road to Kegport logistics. expect to walk south. hut located just before the end of the up and over several small scree slopes. Stephen Lioy takes a look at Kol-Tor Lake in the Kegeti Gorge a few hours from the capital. get out hike to Kol-Tor may Kol-Tor.after all. but doesn’t get nearly as many clueless hikers on the path as it winds around the lake.MonkBoughtLunch. our own little Chui Valley is given a chance to shine. trail heads south towards an imposing glacier be312 909 115). eventually Transport: To get there by public transport take or drunken picnickers as reaching a small rocky “You’ll spend the day alone with delta where the tribua minibus from the East Bus Station towards the Bishkek’s most famous village of Kegeti (50 som. check out Both routes will get you to Kol-Tor. +996 ful place. follow the dirt fore continuing west and eventually making a loop solo or just don’t want to figure out the trans. As a reasonably of the minibus and head down the road to the pass a family of walkers tains that make Kyrgyzstan such a fit hiker. After most spends part his year based in Bishkek. you’d be well-advised to contact the the mountains that make Kyrgyzstan such a beauti. is that you’ll The valleys en route to Kol-Tor offer several you want to stay at the hut during warmer spend the day alone with friends in the foothills of prime spots for camping with beautiful views and months. its location mer months for around 400 som/person. and requires no special equipment (hint: or more) as anything in Ala-Archa National scene and is worth a scramble. porated into multi-day trekking routes. Around whiff of Kyrgyzstan’s fragrant hills and still be back forty-five minutes after leaving the Kegeti hut.months.000 scale. Getting there: A STEPHEN LIOY FTER A LUNG-PUNISHING uphill hike has had a lot of rain recently you’re probably better through fragrant green glades (what off taking the left fork that climbs up an open hillcan I say. Hitch or hike the 10km to the end of the staying at the Kegeti beautiful place” for two or three hours road (veer left at the split.tary stream feeds into before crossing a riverbed into Kegeti. After taking a couple of photos (come on.for the path to angle right across some stones in the river and further to a clearing at the foot of a sharp Stephen Lioy is a traveller and photographer who Tor (All photos Stephen Lioy) right turn that heads uphill to the west.5 hours down. Although the Kol-Tor hike is easily incorfrequent excursions from Bishkek during sum. Instead. you know you love yurts with mountainous back. about 2 hours). The two meet again in a green meadow Union Hut in Kegeti to Kol-Tor Lake takes appush beyond a steep muddy stretch of and climb together up a few more rises to arrive at proximately 3 hours up and 1. horses in Kyrgyzstan make na. you can get a 107) at 1:100. the Trekking Union also organises at a clearing that houses a yurt during shepherding eti village. Bishkek can be purchased at GeoId (Kievskaya several kilometers along a wooded path that climbs I urge you to give it a go . rather than taking a Tour Mountain Hut or from the hut to the tribright over the bridge) and you should see the a handful of walkers out for the day on a trip with utary (and half that on the way back down). More the river December2013 The Spektator www. Kol-Tor is just as beautiful meets the lake provides a great view of the whole of fitness. while beyond the lake a Trekking Union to make a reservation (Tel. look in time for a pint! Above Left Hiking up the hillside beside Kol.


until I got right up close and threw myself onto their staking lines. Getting up. get out here!” I ran down the bank. we were finally on that expedition. Thirst gnawed at my parched throat in the darkness and all I longed for was a glass of fresh water. On The Road The town of Kindikti currently holds the title of the bleakest outpost of humanity I have yet to visit. not the salt-laced stuff that currently filled my Nalgene bottle. It took me a moment to comprehend. to be launched a century to the day from when he first set off. Exposed electrical wires hung . The idea hit me back in 2010 in Kyrgyzstan. littered with debris and rubbish. Above and Right Scenes from the steppe (All photos Matthew Traver) December2013 The Spektator JAMIE BUNCHUK AWOKE TO BLACK THOUGHTS and a thick tongue.thespektator. riding down the Russian post roads of eastern Kazakhstan to reach the mountain range I was then heading home from. Below. never issuing a single sound. but there seemed no time if wolves were amongst our horses. when I was rattling about rather dejectedly in the back of a Russian UAZ. Pulling at the straining ropes I found our animals – in complete but then the realisation hit home. stumbling barefoot in the thorny scrub. were surrounded on all sides by battered once-white dwellings and ramshackle fencing. Jamie Bunchuk and Matthew Traver embark on their own journey. The shapes I had seen were my very own horses. across the Kazakh steppe and into the Mountains of Heaven. Then I remembered a book I had read – through a cold winter in a small room in Sheffield – called Mountains of Heaven. “S**t. Haphazard streets. The Post Roads Expedition had been on my mind for much of my early twenties. the valley floor lay shrouded in dense shadow. I couldn’t see the horses in the dark. already fully dressed as a barrier against the innumerable whining mosquitoes. nor hear them either. eyes wide and white spit flecked across their mouths. following in the old explorer’s footprints. I wished I’d had the forethought to bring a knife or torch down with me. And I had been the wolf. Despite the fiery star-punctured skies above. there had been no black dogs running out there in the night. It was the smallest. who had come to Central Asia in 1913 to explore and to hunt. as they sped and whirled around in a blur. connecting the handful of lamp posts www. I had cast about for some plan that could justify getting back out to the region. This compilation of diary entries told the story of an old Anglo-Irish explorer called Sir Charles Howard-Bury. Matt. I hurried out into the chill midnight. I could see three shapes streaking silently. The shapes began to move faster. rapidly through the long grass: huge black dogs running in the night. nagging seed of worry that all was not well with the horses outside. Hence the idea formed to celebrate the horse-riding section of Howard-Bury’s original journey with a modern expedition.12 Out & About One I Steppe Ahead One hundred years to the day after Sir Charles Howard-Bury set off on a Central Asian odyssey. Coming home prematurely from an expedition to an unexplored section of the Tian Shan. Yet something else also sat there in the tent alongside my physical discomfort. After three years of planning and a lot of sacrifice.

Uphill progress was slow. as such. burping gasoline your care is a horrible experience.” replied Matt. “Shall we stop for a bit?” Matt asked. not helped by our guesswork navigation from 1:1. The town bristled against a border of greener hills. of his to have to eat them.” Kindikti had not been a well-stocked town. “Oh s**t. squat. but I couldn’t He shrugged.” he added. “What do you reckon we should do?” Matt asked. The nauseat. near-defunct collective farm – had not treated his horses well and an old saddle sore had opened up from the rubbing of my saddle’s girth-band. and frustrating couple of days. We had been forced to buy two of our animals from this unscrupulous farm boss owing to a lack of other options. baking heat. come have a look at this. “We haven’t got anything else. and the only breakfast food we’d been able to get re“We continued to eat. Charlie walked haphazardly about the place as we settled into alongside me I had “Now what?” I asked. Coming down out of the must have leaked somehow.000 maps.sembled gruel. surrounded on all There is nothing more profoundly demoralising side by two tripods and the other paraphernalia than travelling all day in the bleak.was a chaotic mess of hastily strewn kit. We’re just goping onto the cut and re-opening it.” I spat out the biscuit. managed to disinfect the wound. just a sec. The sun crushed into Matt and I.” I called over to Matt. in Kazakhstan horses are primarily raised for their meat and their milk and. “It tastes like petrol. and I decided fumes and expletives into the stifling air. we can try putting some foam around it perhaps? Or what happens if I shift the band www. “Well. ing guilt that accompanies hurting an animal in squatting in the empty steppe. already beginning the complex process of dismounting Kazakh Picnic from his spaceship of a saddle. rising out from the monotony of the desert flats behind. shade from the searing intensity of the sun. surrounded by our horses. The camp 13 back… Arghh! F**k!” Charlie had proceeded to much attention at that particular moment. and there are limits to how long you can sit on top of a horse without cramping up in complete agony. peering hills above Kindikti an endless sea of flatness had into our full packbags for the offending item. securing suitable riding steeds is difficult and expensive. that I would walk the remainder of that day. Charlie.000. We didn’t stop for long. I’ll get the noodles out too. engulfed us. green culverts snaking down their steep flanks. “Oh man. with lunch consisting of a single ting in the empty steppe.not if we want dinner at any rate. imagining some drunk would take an unhealthy interest in us. Rising slopes threaded between forlorn-looking peaks. the stifling air “ mate. preocbite me in the crotch. but I didn’t pay him the regular rest-day routine. How the hell did that happen?” “Christ if I know. Unlike neighbouring Kyrgyzstan and Mongolia. burping packet of old dried noodles each and a handful gasoline fumes and expletives into of biscuits. “The petrol stove started that morning. So we stopped for a moment’s rest and I went to adjust the saddle on my horse.thespektator. A scarf was wrapped around my face The relentless beating of the rain on the tent and the world was seen through a veil of fine red walls was driving me to distraction. get the girth-band to sit right and it kept on slip.” We continued to eat. beat into all three A Bend In The River horses too. Charlie’s previous owner – the swaggering head of an aged. We squatted. it was into these mountains we headed. thrown light bouncing off barren earth. only to look back and see exactly where you “Yeah. It was turning into a long cupied by my own hunger and thirst. holding their reins. That tastes rank. I was still worried about Charlie.Out & About that dotted the town. December 2013 The Spektator .

utterly perfect. whilst in India he shot and who was stood in an athground dissolved killed a man-eating tiger that had carried off and letic pose in the dull grey light. I sprang up onto his back through a clearing sky. retaining a hint of gold in the evening Adapted with permission from sidetracked. Bury’s own book. and we and were characterised by innumerable manly es.stroked his neck absentmindedly. I gave Totoro another kick and he spurted more with each repetition. Central Asian expedition. We were the ration of the Tien Shan he spent much of the expedi. back to camp that evening I knew that for some passers on the Roof of the World.14 Out & About Above The arduous 2500 km crossing of the Wrapped up in a stinking horse-blanket I light. past our ears and the himself as a local trader.lennia or more.1881) was a famous the vodka bottle. citing it as his favourite form of exercise. The reds of small flowers transformed into eastern Kazakh steppe took 63 days to complete listlessly tried to memorise the alphabet in streams of colour with the acceleration of our Morse code. and on his 1913 explo. his country estate in Ireland (for exporting your own Then he raised his eyes to stare out with me at We stopped briefly at a shallow river. p***ing Matt off more and vas. transported his pet.thespektator. The explorer later bare skin – and rubbed against me. I jumped off the horse and we both drank seven-foot mature bear during moments of bore“Screw this. To. Pantpets out of modern day Central Asia see Spektator the grey world all around. joy and risk was cathartic. land here was lush. We reason.tunnel of what obstacles lay immediately ahead. wise hushed tent. Totoro’s muddy dom. which he called Agu. As I mentum. and with the slightest touch of my heels we been a trial – and a taster of the many ordeals You can read more about Bury’s boy’s-own were off. botanist and writer. my dark thoughts greedily from the clear stream. dead yellow grass turned to Sir Charles Howard-Bury died in 1963. sprint. strange and alien to ing heavily and thirsty from the efforts of our issue 5) and would occasionally wrestle with the us both. taking the reins.a full shot from the cap “We picked up yet more and as much faithasinI ent in twenty-seven European and Asian languag. Riding tion riding his horse tandem with a baby bear which his head to my calf – his breath warm against through an empty a vain effort to dull the my judgement es.back into the saddle to head for home. The past few days had to Mount Everest in 1921. reputedly flu. nally. and I went to get the saddle. he dropped only two around for many.hoof prints started to fill with water as I swung serving with distinction as a frontline officer during toro seemed as eager to get away from his con. After lifting for once. obviously at. Jagged and shattered cliffs streamed past. other than to beasts prowled in its darkness. I stepped outside. Tension was creeping even faster than before. many miles. (b. For no Mountains of Heaven. and more speed. The wind howled past did in his. Fiour ears and the ground dissolved picked up yet more capades. In 1905 Bury was able to gain entry to Tibet by I went to visit my fa. my vision narrowing to a through the empty air that hung in the other. timeless and at that moment. back to tempting to relieve an itch he couldn’t scratch. Above. at least the night would be okay. and he stood perfectly still noticed the first evening star was poking its way chosen to lead the first reconnaissance expedition as I saddled him up. like lines of paint streaking down a canof my water C.into a blur” The wind howled staining his skin with walnut juice and disguising vourite horse Totoro. was published for the first see where the curve of the water took us. He greeted me into a blur. which chronicles his 1913 had no real destination in mind. I the First World War Bury found fame when he was straints as I was mine. accelerating across the flats adjacent that still lay ahead for us – but as we galloped adventures in Tibet in Peter Hopkirk’s excellent Tres.H-B Man of Action December2013 The Spektator www.” I said aloud. putting British explorer. His travels took him far and wide across Eurasia acute malaise that was more a snort of familiarity and trotted . I gave up.settling all over me. green. tapping out each letter on the side gallop. sighed and grabbed The horse responded to the slightest touch of Sir Charles a river. the sensation of such immense moeaten twenty-one holy men. The time in 1990 and is still in print. unchanged for a milhe had bought in a local market.


bro. “fell off”? economy class booking on Pegasus Airlines. C: Oh u done f***ed up now.he means TS: Point taken. Now that you have lived to see the grand old age of FIFTY. But is that the only reason you came here – the ‘hoes’. But tell me. Coolio. hard drugs. 50-year old rapper Artis Leon Ivey Jr. to use hip-hop parlance. I at Los Angeles airport (LAX) for possession of crack cocaine. In 2009 you were arrested me pay for the sandwiches and the serviettes. there’s business to be done in the B. Do you think you could November 7 to put on a private show).uk . Top left Coolio back when he had three spiky TS: And now that you are here. you motherf***er. thanks for sitting down and talking to Bishkek’s one and only English language hip-hop magazine. C: I’m a man of business. Was it a Fantastic Voyage? C: Fantastic Voyage my butt cheek! Haters made TS: We’ll move on. if u feeling me. “One Hit Wonder”? C: Ha! Sugar Hill Gang. how does it feel? C: Still f***ng without a Zimmer frame. so TS: My bad -“Two Hit Wonder”? to speak? C: I did three platinum for 50 idea? C: Say what? cents C: Don’t ur Editor-in-Chief got ginger hair? I rest TS: In your classic hit “Gangsta’s Paradise” you Right More Snoopy than Snoop Doggy Dogg my How much ass u getting? TS: Probably less than you. we will get to the most obvious question first: what the hell is with the hair? know. After the show finished. Parental Guidance: Contains Explicit Lyrics. will I live to see twenty-fow? The way things is going I don’t TS: In addition to being a ridiculously old Bottom right WhatchULookin@Fool? December2013 The Spektator www.16 Non-News Catchin’ up with Coolio Earlier this month. what are your Exactly how much crack had you consumed things (All photos archive) impressions of Kyrgyz culture? before you decided that hairstyle was a good Centre Available from Amazon.. the Spektator was lucky enough to sit down backstage with Coolio over a crack pipe and a glass of Arpa and ask him about hair. Coolio. You have also spoken about can’t stand that shit! being addicted to the drug as a teenager. identify a moment in your rap career when TS: Our sources tell us you arrived here via an you. But we don’t have two spindly Bishkek: R’n’B pastit Nelly visited ‘the B’ on braids sticking out of the sides of our heads like wilting antlers. aka Coolio rocked Bishkek’s Garage club-restaurant with a dodgy hip and a heartfelt rendition of the 90’s classic Gangsta’s Paradise. or some s**t. the Spektator. The Spektator: We feel you. cases. mused: I’m twenty-three now. If you don’t mind. who do you think of when you hear the words Coolio: The girls in ur hood dig it. (Ed. And like my man Nelly Who the hell reads the Spunktator anyway? told me when he came here real recent. O STEVE HOWEY K COOLIO.thespektator. cookery books and his views on gender equality in Kyrgyzstan.

the gang. TS: Ok. Do you have any I’ve been here would have to be the pulled pork wisdom. you have had your management team find out about this bang (ed. Coolio.of a country where bride kidnapping is sadly prevalent? I’m on commission! But it is really. given that it is unheard of for you to be “treated like a punk”. www. on average? of your adversaries end up “lined in chalk” C: How long is ur d**k. for issuing a string of sexist jokes that made U can bet ur motherf***ing butt on it. I like the minty (ed. Do any of Bishkek’s spitters have what it takes to enjoy longerlasting success than you did? C: Carpe diem.” into a Google search the auto-complete function reflecting the most popular searches using a given combination of letters brings up “Coolio still alive?” before “Coolio Sticky Fingers” and “Coolio Stimulate”.gan fan) and the shak-her-up (ed. He got this one called Manas that go on longer than the Iliad C: U got a lot of time on ur hands. He gotta shorten his rhymes too. I had to say that . TS: Latin. if u know what I’m the Spektator will get “a cap in its ass” when sayin’. what is your impression of the local cuisine? you have appeared in reality TV shows such hour after hour! as Celebrity Big Brother 6.thespektator. pardon the 42. Celebrity Cook Off and Celebrity Boxing. But are you aware that when you type “Coolio sti.TS: Finally. homies. I ain’t buying!” But the best meal I’ve had since another contestant cry. and that many hop mid-life crisis last. means “seize ur wife” in the local slang.. – seven children with four different women and “interview”? shakarab). mother****er? would you agree that there is a strong chance C: These people got flava. you also released a cookbook – Cooking with Coolio: 5 star Meals at a 1 Star Price – in 2009. as I understand. we’ll move to rap this Since you have been in December 2013 The Spektator . Are u aware or some s**t. How long does a hip. drawn from your life’s rich tapestry at Smokies’ Barbecue and Grill on Donetskaya and of experience. actually. “homie”. – manti). recently changed his name to Snoop Lion pun. We understand from our sources on da street that you spent your first evening in Bishkek acquainting yourself with the local rap scene. But a dude gotta change his name – with inflation he’ll be worthless before the record’s cut. Snoop Dogg. you say… and has been spending more and more time in Jamaica. to impart to the young people Zhukeyeva Pudovkina! Sorry.Non-News 17 rapper.TS: On the subject of your d**k. . Which. minute after minute. Radio won’t play that jam! that ur a prick? TS: Another washed out rapper. I say power and the money. both of which were singles on one of your better-known albums? C: My homie Fifty Som’s got some potential fo sho. These motherf***ers love their deep were ejected from Celebrity Big Brother Six heat and like I say in my book: “If you ain’t frying. really great! TS: It certainly is. Since you last made a decent song C: Money and the power.

The two females Bagira and Alcu have lived there since 2002. have come together for an unprecedented push to protect the species. Like many other big cats. from Russia to Bhutan. “Today we are taking first steps. Altogether. They also pledged financial support for the Global Snow Leopard Ecosystem Recovery Program (GSLEP). The male Kunak arrived one year later. The collars transmit a radio signal that can be detected by a receiver over a range of several kilometers. Between 3900-6400 snow leopards are thought to be left worldwide. I am confident that together we will be able to achieve the goal we set. USAID. the snow leopard remains an icon of Kyrgyzstan and an important part of Kyrgyz heritage. the 12 nations endorsed the Bishkek Declaration.18 Focus The Ghosts Mountains of the For all its elusiveness.An interview with Rodney Jackson on the topic of snow leopard conservation efforts can be found in issue 9 of the Spektator available via www. About half of this money will come from the international donor community. Joining with conservation experts from around the world. After they got other nature conservation organizations on board.) In the early 1980s. who has 30 years experience in snow leopard research. Other confiscated animals at the rehab center.” he told delegates. The ultimate goal is to secure 20 healthy populations of snow leopards by the year 2020 (“20 by 20”). the World Bank. In this official document. NABU. Other partners that combined to support and organize the forum included the Global Environment Facility. 12 participating Central and South Asian countries. international NGO with headquarters in California. the Global Tiger Initiative. A photograph in the article showed his bandaged hand . are cared for and then released to the wild. A common secretariat to coordinate the joint efforts will be located in Bishkek. October The overall cost of this ambitious undertaking will be around US $190 Million. P ADRIANE LOCHNER Top Snow leopard range countries (NABU) NABU Wildlife Rehab Center NABU operates near the village Ananyevo and with 7. such as birds of prey. Snow Leopard Trust. as well as a red-listed species internationally. Leaders of the Berlinbased Society for Nature Conservation Germany (NABU) talked about the success of the Global Tiger Initiative and wondered if a similar campaign could work in favour of snow leopards. they acknowledge that “the snow leopard is an irreplaceable symbol of our nations’ natural and cultural heritage”.thespektator. Snow Leopard Conservancy. Illegal hunting and the expansion of livestock breeding and infrastructure are all key factors in the snow leopard’s decline. The Snow Leopard Conservancy is a specialized. the snow leopard is facing extinction. The center is not open to the public. That goal is to preserve the snow leopard and its habitats in the upper reaches of some of the world’s loftiest mountain ranges. The executive director is the famous wildlife biologist Rodney Jackson. This month Adriane Lochner takes a look at the global and local battle to preserve the .co. (Ed. As of 1986 the cat has been red listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).thespektator.. but NABU has no intentions to begin a breeding program. Rodney launched a pioneering radio-tracking study of snow leopards in the Nepalese mountains which made it onto the cover of National Geographic. The idea for the forum.000 square metres of territory is the world’s largest enclosure for snow leopards.collars offered unique insights www. a detailed action plan for saving the cat. Such groundbreaking research with the help of radio . One item in the GSLEP action plan is the intensification of scientific research to better understand snow leopard ecology and behavior. In 2009 they accidently had offspring. UNDP. like all good ideas. NABU presented its proposal for a global forum to then-Kyrgyz President Roza Otunbayeva.and later GPS . December2013 The Spektator RESIDENT ALMAZBEK ATAMBAYEV was in a confident mood at the Global Snow Leopard Conservation Forum. and the World Wildlife Fund.Rodney had got bitten while collaring a cat. All three snow leopards were rescued from traps and due to their injuries cannot be released to the wild. was born over drinks at a bar.

has been working in nature conservation for almost 20 years and has long been involved with snow leopards and illegal hunting. seizing skins and more than 100 traps and weapons.more than five times the size of Manhattan. Not only has the illegal hunting of the snow leopard itself threatened the species. “In the early nineties. the Siberian ibex and the argali wild sheep also fall victim to poachers. actively engaging communities in snow leopard conservation via its program Snow Leopard Enterprise. Rangers earn around 2. Tolkhunbek Asykulov.or Group Snow Leopard. the Gruppa Bars . No wonder that some of them are prone to corruption turning a blind eye towards illegal hunting.thespektator. Now it is mainly rich people who thrive on trophies. too mutilated to be released in the wild. The Gruppa Bars was allowed to detain suspects and confiscate live animals. head of the Bishkek SLT-branch says “Some mountain people support poaching by providing accommodation. The cats. Snow leopard at NABU wildlife rehab center (Photo NABU).uk 1999. horses and guide services to illegal hunters. scientists GPS-tracked a cat with a home range of over 463 square kilometers . this page A rescued snow leopard at NABU’s wildlife rehab center. 2013 (Photo SLT/Kubanychbek Zhumabai uluu). not only when it comes to compiling scientific data. In www. In Kyrgyzstan the fine for killing a snow leopard is 500. The Kyrgyz government equipped them with police powers for official and hidden operations. Due to paw injuries.000) – a weighty deterrent for the average citizen. Snow leopard captured via photo trap in the Sarychat-Ertash area on November 1. hats and furnishings. and bones. In Mongolia. Tracking by GPS/Satellite telemetry provides valuable insights in the cats’ behaviour (SLT) Left to Right. The fur is used for clothing. Head of the Kyrgyz NABU-Office. Snow leopards are killed and traded for their fur and other body parts including teeth. four men were selected based on their environmental knowledge together with police or military experience. the snow leopard range countries want to establish joint border inspections to stem illegal wildlife trafficking.” Asykulov says. this female cannot survive in the wild any longer(Photo Adriane Lochner). most of the snow leopard range countries have been working in isolation. poaching has changed. The cat’s prey.000 KGS (US $10. weapons and other evidence. Kuban Zhumabai uluu. Aware of the lack of man power for law enforcement. During the past 20 years the group made quite some achievements: they convicted 180 poachers and traders. So far. considering the fur’s value on the international black market is roughly the same. These findings showed the urgent need for transnational collaborations in terms of research and data-sharing. Usually the items are exported for sale on international markets in the West or in China. are currently living in NABU’s wildlife rehab center near but also with regard to law enforcement. barely enough to feed their families.Focus into the ground the cats can cover. food. One of their biggest successes was the rescue of three live snow leopards from jaw traps. in Issyk-Kul oblast. In order to conquer poaching. the Seattle-based Snow Leopard Trust provides locals with incentives not to poach. Snow leopards don’t care much for official state borders. Kyrgyz rangers typically have a hard time covering the high-altitude landscapes and verifying how many animals are actually shot each year. President Atambayev listening to translation of delegates speech during the main session of the global forum (Photo Adriane Lochner) December 2013 The Spektator . the Kyrgyz government issues hundreds of legal trophy licenses each year and conservationists argue that hunting in the country is mismanaged. In the future. NABU founded a special task force. claws.500 KGS per month (US $50). 19 Above Left A GPS-collared snow leopard in Mongolia’s Southern Gobi region. In addition. In the past six years. the farmers had no jobs and wanted to earn extra money. skins.

are the Kyrgyz snow leopards’ main food source. Next year. awareness and enhancing B conservation policies and institutions. says Zhumabai uulu. ”To perform an accurate count and to distinguish certain individuals based on their fur pattern. •  limate change: retreating glaciers in Central C Asia could increase the risk of droughts. •  ransboundary management and enforcement. If their numbers decrease. Zhumabai uulu. For the Kyrgyz. In addition to these efforts both the trust and NABU are working hard to educate the public on the importance of snow leopard conservation. scratching.” Beyond building relationships. But SLT’s Zhumabai uulu says that it is important to try to discern precise numbers and locations of the cats. he will set up 40 state-of-the-art camera .” Zhumabai uulu has only actually encountered a wild snow leopard once. we always set up two cameras at a one location. IncreasH ing infrastructure such as new roads for mineral exploration. •  imited human and financial resources for conL servation. “They’re the only ones who really know how abundant certain species are in an gas and oil pipelines or hydro electric power facilities and reduce quality of habitats and prevent genetic connectivity. (i) at least 100 breeding age snow leopards.20 Focus Clockwise from Left to Right. T • Research and monitoring. based on monitorM ing and evaluation of population and range areas. also relies on modern technology. •  ack of scientific research on ecology. checks a camera trap (Photo Adriane Lochner) Prey of the snow leopards are also captured by the photo traps.” Herding communities who participate in the “Snow Leopard Enterprise” contractually agree not to help poachers. (Photo Kubanychbek Zhumabai uulu) Snow leopard caught by photo trap at night (Photo SLT/Kyle McCarthy) A snow leopard (Photo NCF-SLT) ranging its territory 20 by 20 The “20 by 20” goal is to identify and secure at least 20 healthy snow leopard populations by 2020. Program participants get an extra bonus from the SLT if they don’t illegally hunt snow leopards or their prey animals inside the community protected area. •  anaging habitats and prey. it symbolizes strength. who works in Kyrgyzstan’s Sarychat-Ertash State Nature reserve. Criteria for a healthy population are. and increased scarcity of water may impact pastures and the availability of food for both wild prey and domestic livestock. •  eak transboundary cooperation in terms of law W enforcement and habitat connectivity. Here the Siberian ibex pauses in contemplation (Photo NABU) Researcher Orjan Johansson monitoring a sedated snow leopard. urine markings and feces. and (iii) connection of landscapes to other snow leopard populations. subterfuge and evasion. Siberian ibex and argali. and it takes a long time to gain their trust and get information. The snow leopard lives in remote and harsh mountain areas and is an expert in camouflage. The main points of the program are: •  ngaging local communities in a fingerprint. and whoever kills one will be cursed. Currently snow leopards face threats from: • ncreasing livestock and overgrazing: domestic I animals displace the snow leopard’s prey and farmers set out for retaliatory/protective killings. In order to achieve this goal conservationists have put together a detailed action plan. a meeting he recounts with relish. But they don’t easily open up to outsiders. • llegal trade and poor law enforcement. “ A Snow Leopard’s Venture It was only a few days ago that Zaraa was weaned away from her mother. which makes it a lot easier to identify the animals when we photograph them the next time. In exchange. we get photos of both sides of the cat. this page & opposite Head of the Gruppa Bars and geographer. Her new name came with www. we have reason to worry about the snow leopard as well. (ii) containing sufficient and secure wild prey populations. “The animal is sacred for us. To find out how many cats live in a given region you can look for paw prints.S. Participating villages in Kyrgyzstan include Enilchek and Ak-Shyyrak in the Central Tian-Shan Mountains. Counting to Protect the Cats Assessments of snow leopard population sizes across countries remain vague (see textbox). • Combatting poaching and illegal trade. behavior. focusing on early education in schools. Their coat pattern is unique .” says Zhumabai uulu. “This way. Many I countries have poor wildlife laws and porous borders that encourage traffickers. and addressing human-wildlife conflict. •  uilding capacity. They are triggered by a motion sensor and take photos of everything that moves in front of them. The ancient tribes believed that their ancestors descended from snow leopards. traditional handicrafts made by women from these communities are imported to the U. In Kyrgyzstan this elusive character has earned the animal the moniker “ghost of the mountains”. Soon he will equip the cat with a GPS-collar (Photo SLT) Previously counts were based on indirect evidence. such as paw prints. he explains. the Global Snow Leopard Ecosystem Recovery Program (GSLEP). inE cluding promoting sustainable livelihoods. “This information allows us to identify the areas we need to focus on to conserve the snow leopard. L December2013 The Spektator We therefore need to offer them alternatives for making money. opposite of each other. They lived together in the Tost Tosonbumba Mountains in Mongolia’s Southern Gobi region. and sold there. adding that he regularly spends weeks on end with local herders in the mountains. a wild sheep species. •  abitat fragmentation and degradation. the “Mountain Ghosts” have a very special meaning.” Counting prey is another way of assessing snow leopard abundance. Joldosh Akunov.

This is important.000 ha) remains one of the best studied snow leopard habitats in the world.8 million square kilometers. the transmitter They learned that some of Zaraa’s fellow snow sends it to a satellite server. October 18. This process contin.000-2. The cats inhabit a total area of about 1. researchers ry. abouts and every five hours. to the GPS coordinates Zaraa has left her home range and hiked about 80 km through the open steppe to the Nemegt Mountains. Pakistan (200420). contributor to National Geographic. the lines show a different area. the Tibetan Plateau and the Mongolian Gobi region. The interview “We assumed that the mountain ranges in with Kuban Zhumabai uluu also featured in her arthe South Gobi are habitat islands separated ticle Schneeleoparden: Inventur bei den “Berggeisby steppes and grasslands . the Sarychat-Ertash State Nature Reserve (about 150. “Thanks to the GPS data from the collars quite an expensive piece. Based on DNA-analysis and extensive monitoring via camera traps. Russia (70-90).500). Kazakhstan (100-110). Kyrgyz Republic (150-500). The reserve lies just south of Lake Issyk-Kul. It can be collected areas that are under highest pressure due to the and 21 Where Do They Live? Snow leopards live in high mountain regions at elevations up to 5. rests during the day and starts looking for prey are planning GPS-collaring snow leopards in the at dusk. Zaraa’s necklace is dustry. The mountain ranges include concede a nearby canyon within its license tion of points on a map.Nature Often it is relatively flat the collar drops off by itself. Zaraa moves only within her territo.during the conference one of them light-heartedly offered free visas to any cats willing to emigrate! As for Kyrgyzstan. Tajikistan (180-220). rangers needs to turn on the have put GPS-collars computer and download the data sets.gali reproduction. Now he just one will be cursed “ bek Anarbaev.leopards also embark on such courageous hikes ues for 18 months until the battery gets low and across mountain ranges. and whoever kills der the supervision of with the lightweight the researcher Maksatdevice. we have learned that we need to focus on these The scientist Koustubh Sharma is working for corridors if we want to protect the snow leopard.until we got Zaraa’s tern“ that appeared on National Geographic. Tian Shan. The mission to save this beautiful. With support of the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP). area since it turned out to be a key area for arNormally.” explains Sharma. As a result.Focus a GPS-receiver and a satellite phone transmitter. Based on the data they retrieved.000ha) next to the Sarychat-Ertash State Nature Reserve. Sharma on the wild sheep in the Sarychat-Ertash State tracks Zaraa’s path by transferring the GPS-coor. enigmatic pattern. not far from the Chinese border and the Kumtor gold mine. Trust in Mongolia. data. Pamirs. The youngster Adriane Lochner is a freelance journalist and a had set out to find a new home. The 12 range countries and their estimated snow leopard populations are: Afghanistan (100-200). 2013. Hindu Kush. Mongolia (500-1000). The modest snow leopard population in the Russian Federation is a sore point for Russian conservationists . India (200-600).of 19 snow leopards in the South Gobi region. Today. and Uzbekistan (20-50). however. dinates to a Google Earth map.their ancestors descended from used in Kyrgyzstan. he can the nearby Kumtor gold mine accepted a request see her movements in recent days as a combina. Sharma barely believes them. Nepal (300-500). December 2013 The Spektator . 25 snow leopards are thought to live in this protected area. Ormethod called GPS/satjan Johansson sedated the ancient tribes believed that ellite telemetry is also the young snow leop. Altai.” the Snow Leopard says Sharma. www. Bhutan (100-200) China ( meters. According species is a restless one. because with a construction of new roads and the mining inmarket value of around $4500. He monitoring “The animal is sacred for us… This and his colleague. Altogether SLT scientists have collared a total The receiver frequently records Zaraa’s where. Unard and equipped her snow leopards. Ahead of next year. the Kyrgyz government plans to establish a Khan-Tengri National Park (187.

the free cola focussed and with a pretty water feature that refills and the table football. $$ the best in town . $$ Coffee House (9.Expect change from 300 som hoping that they fix up an English menu in time Barsuk NEW (Tynystanova 122) $$ . Avenue 71 is cakes Bishkek has to offer at one of three ‘Coffee family-friendly by day and more dancey by night. decorated with movie posters. order two of that’s not a hit combination we don’t know what them – the service is slow. of Manhattan to it – no complaints. opposite Vefa) array of whiskies. head south Home to a young. To be honest we aren’t sure what the INTERNATIONAL food is like here .Expect to pay more than 500 another sell. football. or just drop in passes muster but the ice cream here is some of for a caffeine hit and a chocolate fix. Straight to the top of the class! $$$ Russian Drama Theatre. it’s a place to wash As lulya kebab. a little out of the way and rarely visited by tourists. and for those on a budget. The food feels overpriced. when the outdoor deck will be yet With its great location on the south side of the $$$ . don’t count on the staff waiting up unless it’s a big one. too. Cavernous yet cosy inside. Landau isn’t a bad spot for a pork steak or some other Armenian December2013 The Spektator Chuchuara Hoga (117. We dislike the management but don’t feel the same way about the stuffed crust pizza and faijitas.In the region of 300-500 som for summer. this joint is the real down fried onions with a jar of beer and watch ‘restaurant’ in pork shoulder. To get to Teplikluchy village. $$$ Democrat* NEW (Frunze/Gogol) Democrat is the latest shashlyk and beer hub to go Barashek NEW (Tokombaeva 78) viral among Bishkek’s fattening middle class. $ Metro* (133. this isn’t a place to quibble China Town NEW (Orozbekovа/Toktogul) intellectual property rights. Hotel accommodation also Chicago* NEW (Gorkova 1) available. Locally caught fish is a house special. $$$ Buddha Bar* (Sovietskaya/Akhunbayeva) Buddha bar offers a taste of the East inside a tastefully constructed zen log cabin. $$ Price Guide (main course.. name. although thanks to the hideously late kickoff times for Champions League football matches. the ‘spicy’ sauce. Curl up and read a book. Houses’. $$ ARMENIAN Landau (Manas/Gorkova) Fancy something a little different? If you can tolerate the arthritic service. but its worth a look later in the evening. Whatever you are ordering. The wine is decent. photos of cinema icons and a bunch of American kitsch. here is the latest version of the guide – updates never go near Bishkek cognac again. Barsuk is very much AMERICAN Hollywood* (Drujba/Sovietskaya) As you would probably guess.we spent most of the evening supping mulled wine and gazing at the hundreds 12 Chimneys (Village Teplye kluchi) of wooden cranes poetically suspended from Wooden cabin located by a rushing river thirty the ceiling. $$$ that like to bukhat (get wasted). treat yourself to some Barashek is out in the micro region so you get a decent Armenian cognac whilst your here. Sister restaurant on Ibraimova has a saxophone night Fridays and Saturdays. by the drinking sessions are marked with a star * in the decor. but if you’re feeling bewildered. garnish. Metro remains the première drinking hole for expats. The menu is encyclopediac in scope. A fun place for a few drinks before heading off to the clubs. Hollywood is popular with a younger crowd and is usually packed from mid-evening onwards. Obama is as good a place as any to debate healthcare bills and the debt ceiling over decent. $$ www. Chui) With this Chinese restaurant. If food. Request a хого (your own personal Chinese boiling-pot) and randomly select a variety of unusual Chinese delicacies to throw in. fear Barclay’s were not paid for the use of their rather than the capital. there’s decent music during the week. although . if slightly over-priced “Chili’s”-type fare. rammed with Chinese at lunch and dinner time.two metre terracota warriors even feature the people’s sport. beer) Chinese spots but overwhelmingly better. Manas & Togolok Moldo/Ryskulova) Avenue 71 (Kiev. In regard to the latter we recommend Irish Stout or Blonder Premium. (That’s not baseball.consider the ‘notspicy’ sauce as a suitable alternative $$ Frunze (Chui/Pravda) Free semechki is one of many reasons to check out this lively hangout. We are $ . The interior has a dash adds a measure of calm to outdoor dining. We like Sister restaurant of Tubeiteka but more lamb. $$ Bishkek’s new hip place. Much as with Burger Kiиg on Akhunbaeva st. a long bar and friendly staff compliment a good Tex-Mex menu and a wide selection of drinks. Pricier than the other Bishkek way). The sushi is excellent. Recommended! $$ Cave NEW (Gorkova. Suitable for a pre-party drink as well. Ikea-like interior. denim-wearing demographic down Almatinskaya Street and keep going. just point to something tasty-looking on a neighbouring table like we did. Metro is one of the best bets for catching sporting events on TV. $$ is. Beware. may leave delicate stomachs in some distress several hours later . the best thing Chicago has going for it is decent prices on an ARTishock* (Gorkova. Nevertheless. The overpriced food is more revolutionary by Bishkek’s base artistic standards. Chui) In the impressive location of a former theatre. lamb legs and chicken quarters.. in addition to acceptable pub Good live music and tasty homemade soup.thespektator.22 THE GUIDE Bars and Restaurants culinary goodies. there’s a fine line between ‘bar’ and Open since last December. $$ Barclay’s Pub* NEW (Sovietskaya/Mederova) always welcomed at editor@thespektator. the 200 som buffets. you’ll dose of fresh air free with your mutton rack. A high ceiling. Well worth the trek out to Orto-Sai market in the cooler half of the city. 71 on the corner of the square) Treat yourself to some of the finest coffee and With its spacious. but the latter are minutes out of town. the stir-fry noodle dishes make an excellent lunch. Eurogrub and a good selection of ales. $$$ So. Places more suitable for deal . $$$ Blonder Pub* (Pravda/Kulatova) Blonder Pub is a brewery-restaurant worth visiting. cosy boutique cafés with a European The gasto-restaurnt-type grub here certainly flavour. Enjoy a range of whisky and well-made cocktails. than compensated for by the chilled atmosphere $$ and wild surroundings. graced by Russian rappers and the capital’s free-spending youth. you really feel you are getting the real deal. ribs. close to Sovietskaya) Wow.walk it off with a stroll around the square. Ever. $$$ Obama (Toktogula/Erkindik) A homage to the historical one. $$$ Smokie’s (Donetskaya/Jukeeva Pudovkina) Bishkek’s first and only traditional American barbecue restaurant serves pit-smoked spicy beef brisket. we CHINESE Be aware that NEW may mean new to the guide.

as well as an impressive array of Johnny Pub is a good place to load up on chips. a good place for a light. Prego Club is like its sister bilge that’s normally sold as lager. Frunze) One of our favourite places to drink in the summertime. $$ Fab Bar* (338a. Once swamped in bloodcircus) coloured velvet you can order some tasty fried You can get a Guinness here..Bars. the best grub here is pub grub with warren and tuck in. 219) to Bishkek’s take on a Bavarian-style beer hall.. Sky Hall (not to be confused with the old Sky bar) is a lofty escape route from the daily Bishkek grind. Both English (East Wing of the Circus on Frunze) and regional dishes. homemade borsch and board games. English publican. A comfortable. Moskovskaya) People better in the know than us say that this A pricey. Outdoor balcony-cum-terrace high above the street with slouch-couches and fine views of the circus which you can sometimes smell in hot weather. $$$ Sierra Cafe (57. $$$$ Stary Edgar’s* (15. behind Dvorets Sporta) Atmospheric drinking cabin that serves a range of Central Asian and Russian cuisine. the towww. the pub had a resident cat.  $$ December 2013 The Spektator . Check out the real cat that isn’t fat and the fat cats at the entrance that aren’t real. Vienna is spelled BEHA in Russian. wink. Good pub food and a range of brews on draught. and the fairly new U Mazaya on Almatinskaya/Chui. This is where the KGB operatives take their girlfriends. and this bistro’s decor will make you feel like you’ve stepped Guinness Pub* NEW (338 Frunze. With a host of well-kept restaurant.opposite the inside an artery. Sit in the bar area over a beer or in the city’s dining scene by Dillinger – a top-notch lounge in the airy non-smoking conservatory. $$ Steinbrau* (5. but subsumed into our German section in the name of the Anschluss. but the salads offer something a bit different salads. wink. Dream Bar gets in Almaty. 350 soms including a wine or a beer is one of Flat parties – beginning from 20. A blues band plays most nights weekends. surrounded by other interesting-looking cafes too. although they may not be around forever. $$ Elki-Palki (Yunusalieva 171a) A constant in an era of restaurant flux. Great place to splash out on a special occasion or just for the hell of it. A posh. Vienna is a cracking little place to people watch on Mossoviet over some great European dishes and a glass of fine Austrian wine. $ A buzzing centrally-located cafe popular with a mostly younger clientele. but pleasant place to while away an sleek little number has filled the culinary hole left afternoon. Sister restaurant sushi-loving business crowd. $$$ die-for Belgian waffles and a mushroom soup Spektator writer Thomas Olson describes as “orgasmic”. $$ GlavPivTrest* (Asanbai region. Fat Cat do a good burger and have both smoking and non-smoking seating. If you didn’t know that Austria produced fine wines. Manas) Set on the mountains side of town and 50 metres above 23 Vienna    (Moscow/Soviet . Lenin makes an appearance outside the bogs and you can get Spektator favourite Venskoye on tap. $$$ Telegraph (Chui/Isanova) Navigator * (103. Elki-Palki serves great steaks with 1A sauce. next to City Club) We watched a band called Liquid Cactus play here and admired the old Soviet paraphenalia hanging on the walls. We haven’t ordered. Kyrgyz Kvartira 148 NEW weather allows for a summer terrace. $$ fairy-light adorned flagship U Mazaya in Asenbai micro region. Panfilova) The concrete monstrosity of the Russian Theatre conceals one of Bishkek’s finest attempts at a cosy basement bar. $$$ Fat Cat (Razzakova/Bokonbaevo) Perhaps the most experimental interior out of all Bishkek’s cafes. Also check out both the any pork or lamb dish recommended. kids – can feature anything from female and purplish lounge-type place patronized by the male strippers to jazz quartets. healthy lunch and the tomato soup is a winner. 93. Descend into this underground beers on tap. but given Rosso has only Irish chums say the nosh is grand and dress-up opened recently it is probably worth a shot. when we can afford it. Tynystanova) One of the poshest places to eat out in Bishkek. up at the border with Kazakhstan. it isn’t difficult to see why. ‘The flat’ has charmed Bishkek with its slippers. $$ Sky Hall NEW (On top of the Ak-Keme. $$$$ when fat and grease are getting you down. $$$ evenings have made it a key fixture on a Friday evening. Starts to fill up around 8ish. Friendly staff. a laptop or the latest copy of The Economist and imagine that you are in Seattle. Very cool. They Smack bang where Adriatico used to be before it brew their own stuff . hair Dream Bar* (Kievskaya 137) Pop into Dream Bar for an Alko Lunch. which at rollers. We’ve only had a light lunch Attentive service and a refreshing selection of here. Restaurants & Clubs Derevyashka* (Ryskulova. $$ smooth and smoochy in the evenings. $$$ U Mazaya  (Behind ‘Zaks’ on Sovietskaya near the Pinta Pub* (Frunze/Manas) Sovietskaya/Frunze intersection) Pinta Pub is a bright green lighthouse for the Possibly Central Asia’s only rabbit themed Spektator on a hot day. $$ We love this place – and we are not alone. $$ English barfly regulars. steak and fresh beer before moving on to a hukka pipe filled with absinthe later in the evening. $$ Champions league at three in the morning. but our staff are drawbacks. Compliment restaurant in Dostuk hotel but with a bit more of a boudoir feel. $$$ Four Seasons (116a. and a well stocked bar. Gerzena) Don your beer drinking trousers and head down Prego Club NEW (Chui. Nice. a decent menu and a collection of old bits and bobs decorating the walls make Edgar’s an attractive alternative to the city’s Live Bar* (Kulatova/Pravda) Twenty-four hour sports bar with live music at mainstream cafés. Last time we checked. when it isn’t held mozzarella cheese balls and half-decent goulash. Manas) An established expat favourite and with the Johnny Pub* NEW (Toktogul/Orozbekova) Starbucks-standard caramel macchiatos. Nice for a ‘theme’ Rosso NEW (Shopokova/Ivanitzena) night out. Elegant. A steak will set you back 600 soms but we think it’s worth it.tucked away slightly off the main street on the southeast side of the intersection) Actually an Austrian restaurant. but since Dragon’s Den * (Shevchenko/Frunze) this creature seems to rub some customers up Bishkek’s English pub comes complete with the wrong way by touting for scraps.such a relief from the insipid was pole-axed by a tree .. cosy place and well worth a ride out to the suburbs – every taxi driver knows it. restaurant in its time . Plenty of leather couches provide the and a pianist adds a romantic ambience on some ideal place to sip cocktails whilst watching the Sunday evenings. you can check out the adjoining shop to begin your viticultural education. Enjoy a break from meat with some your pint with a plate of German sausage with sauerkraut. $$ Rosso means “red” in Italian. Good beer snacks and the burgers aren’t bad either. and English pub quiz (Wednesdays at 8pm). Engagement ring territory. yet modern interior and polite service. $$$ of the best vegetarian cooking around.00 and not for the better priced lunch deals in town. and the other A bland alfredo pasta and the feckless waiting beers are decent too. $$ Pivnoff* (Karalayeva/Koibogarova) A lovely little ale garden in the 4th micro-district which one of our readers stumbled on while trying GERMAN to find Orto-Sai market. Sit with a group of mates.

Closed in winter. too. $$ game is up. We liked to Bishkek’s ‘southerners’ without affecting the the potato pancakes with caviar. behind Dvorets Sporta) A handy hop from the main city Mosque. Faiza I (Jibek Jolu/Manas) sauces that compliment a wide array of vegetable Possibly the best place to munch traditional grub and meat dishes. some of the Kyrgyz waiting staff there Georgian joint out in the micro regions. behind circus) on weekends. who chacha firewater and make it a night. Probably at its best in summer. Classy restaurant with a turn of the 20th century says they are Kazakh. sitting at Eastern-style tables – cross your legs and fulls of steaming. Zaporyzhia is a cossack flavoured restauraunt in L’Azzurro (105. We tend to Like all the Ukrainian restaurants we’ve tried in Beirut (Sovietskaya/Mederova) order big . The Bukhara salad. $$ supper in a lake and waitresses in national dress The Host (Sovietskaya. The menu is of tasty salads. 107) resident Korean tells us this place isn’t bad either. $$ price and mezze. $$$ Dolce Vita (116a. it fills up Toktogula) Bukhara NEW (Shopokova 126. good value pizza. $$$ well. $$ quality of the grub. We recommend the Lamb Rogan Josh and the Palak Panir. although you get the Spektator’s untrained tongue.the waiter Across the street from Kyung Bok Kung. but be prepared for the Sauporo (Kok-Jar Village) way they all scream something at you in Japanese A veritable Kyrgyz Disneyland. unless you keep kashrut. JAPANESE gourmand and the grease-lover. $$$ offer excellent service. Chui). making it a magnet for both the limited and if your Russian is cosy and serves up bowlExcellent Japanese cuisine in this . in particular. $$$ Bella Italia (Kievskaya/K. $$ together enough soms. Slightly more upmarket sister restauraunt on Mederova/Tynastanova. the delicious Deceptively low cost. $$ in town. Vostok 5) Hard to spell but great to eat at. Manas greets you INDIAN and bow in unison as you leave the place. A seat at the doll’s house table is a Bellagio (Erkindik/Bokonbaeva) strictly shoeless experience and can be awkward At its best on a not-so-roasting summer day for the long-legged. see how long before cramp sets in. $ Watch your meat and vegetables fried in front of The lavash is outstanding here. Akhunbaeva) TURKISH Cosy Italian restaurant with smiling waitresses serving excellent. as well as an dish on the menu. Bella Italia is quite simply the (Near the Yuzhniy Vorota on Sovietskaya) only authentic Italian food in town. opposite the Hyatt) bring out things like beshbarmak po-Talaski. but we recommend dabbling in the fish as recommended! $$$ traditional Italian favourites. the Chinese chicken.thespektator. $$ Usta (Opposite the main mosque. Japan and Europe. a plate of tortellini PPF and the four cheeses pizza. Manas) Smart Italian restaurant with plush interior.Akiev) Run by Italian chef Walter and positioned behind LEBANESE Taras Bulba the October cinema. Small terrace outside Ojak (On Erkindik between Moskovskaya. Their fried pelmeni and manti are so good that they have often run out by supper-time. $ Jalalabad (Togolok Moldo/Kievskaya) Basically the cheapest food (that won’t give you gut rot) in the centre of town. Also serves NATIONAL salads and European cuisine. A real Tubeiteika (Moskovskaya/Turusbekova) stand out and a Spektator favourite! $$$ Kyung Bok Kung NEW (30. The speak Japanese and the ramen is very tasty to the khadjapuri passes muster. $ Aoyama (93. Order a bottle of We shouldn’t say a bad word about the staff. $$ Bukhara’s menu overflows with the best Uzbek Technically an ‘Azerbaijanian’. Derevyashka* (Ryskulova. The grilled trout. $$$ impressive array of pivo. Chui). is a winner. $$$ Cyclone (136. Have $$ your tea in a giant samovar. when the locals are rather rowdy. Ibraimova) efficient. We liked the ITALIAN here for fear of ruining ‘the secret’ . hearty Georgian fare with charming little cafe that opened in summer 2013. It can at a dung-scented entrance. Vostok 5 best cuisine in Bishkek. Hearty rustic dishes Pasta dishes stand out among a menu of stick to Levantine treats then L’Azzurro has the full and a homely atmosphere. $$ Limited menu but a very cool experience. albeit a pricy one.if you can scrape Atmospheric drinking cabin that serves a range Kebab’ is perhaps unsurprisingly the standout of Central Asian and Russian cuisine. But the chef is (Donetskaya/Jukeyeva Pudovkina) Japanese.24 Bars. $$ UKRAINIAN when you can people-watch from the terrace on Erkindik boulevard while enjoying some of the Chong Gi Won (115. who begged us not to put it in nods to China. plus dessert. Taras Bulba serves great food. Moskovskaya) Elegant sushi joint frequented by serious looking suited-types concluding their latest dodgy deals. Toktogula) full endorsement. but be warned. $ pomegranate seeds a-plenty.sorry guys. Relocation has made Beirut more accessible Bishkek. Save an appetite and go early. $$$ KOREAN food make this place a real treat. $$ December2013 The Spektator www. $$ get an Arpa for 60 soms.a litre of house white. ‘Usta The food’s excellent though . Beerier sister restaurant opposite the Ministry of Kazanski kebab and Dim-la-ma get the Spektator’s Foreign Affairs on Frunze. If the plan is to a varnish-scented log cabin. for summertime dining. Try the snails . A good place to take large parties. $$$$ atmosphere serving Russian specialities. just say ‘kebab’. Well worth it on football Beliaist (Moskovskaya/Turuzbekova) Yusa (Logvinenko/Bokonbayeva) nights. our Pirogoff-Vodkin (Kievskaya. with circle of ex-pats. This is a delight. The medovukha is range. Restaurants & Clubs GEORGIAN Egao NEW (Chui 140) Egao is an intimate Japanese affair on Bishkek’s main drag and with only two tables inside we Chito Gvrito NEW wonder how it breaks even. Great A varied and interesting menu including fine Indian food. Chui) Zaporyzhia (9. as are the range of you on an oval metal pan attached to your table. Similar to L’Azzurro in both soups and fresh salads. when the shashlyk masters flanking Mimino (Kievskaya/Shopokova) Furusato NEW (Bokonbaeva 132) the entrance offer their creations straight to guests Mimino is nice. polite serving staff and a warm atmosphere to alleviate Bishkek’s winter chills. the sushi and the shashlyk. lively. old men catch their be quite freaky. Order a meal and impression the place is still finding its feet. The menu is well Family-run and extremely popular among a small beyond the traditional Central Asian scope. but don’t let this fact cuisine has to offer but also boasts a plethora ruin the best value kebabs in town.


boards the train and takes the bunk above. a still shot on repeat. riding the long and flat of Eurasia. who will be pretty when her acne clears up. sisters. as everyone watches. and we are met by her boyfriend. I find out she is studying medicine here. I carry her bags out and place them down on the platform. At stations across Russia the goods are collected by Kyrgyz migrant traders – cousins. The stinky babushka gets off at the same industrial stop. I write in my notebook. We are at Karaganda now. The girl finishes her book and I help her get some things from the storage under my bed. I relish the sloth of the journey. A second babushka has joined us and she takes a long look at the toys but doesn’t buy. Mutinous. The old woman that doesn’t stink has a long look at the jewellery. In the evening a Kazakh woman roams the carriages selling peroshki and snacks she’s bought in town. For a few early hours it is quiet and I read my book in peace. I carry one of the girl’s bags off the train. travelers searched and given bogus fines (200 som for overweight luggage. detached in time and space. Later the second babushka alights in a small village. are transporting the grain south to sell. reading and occasionally smiling. lingerie. The silent Tatar is also getting off. I heave one of the sacks onto the top storage above and tuck my rucksack beneath my bed. make their beds in place of my old neighbours and soon fall asleep. staring blankly at the wall. A young student girl. Vacuum-sealed by wrapping machines at Dordoi bazaar or squeezed into those Chinese bags that always break. they conspire to confront the conductor about the cat they know exists on the train. The conductors want to move the sack of grain from the top storage. a short. The babushka with the bad breath sees something has eaten the bottom of her plastic bag. explaining how the plastic bag and sausage have been savaged. www. The author hikes in Nepal and I drift away. the fading October grasses cradling an infinite. The train’s conductors.) Compared to this Central Asian sportswear shuffle.26 The End Loco Motion B PATRICK BARROW OARDING AN EMPTY TRAIN before departure I find two hessian sacks of grain stored under the lower beds. Our small train community is a microcosm. then again an hour later. mute. for example). The young girl sits on the end of my berth again.thespektator. A silent Tatar takes the bunk adjacent to the young girl and we roll out of Kustani. “Show him the plastic bag!” But the babushka with bad oral hygiene retreats. but the old woman’s right to storage has been violated. her destination. Northern Kazakhstan. leaving the other sack in its place. The conductor mops the floor and asks if I’m writing a book or a letter. Three Kazakh lads board.yet somehow the tracksuits and lingerie remain safely hidden below every bed. A few stations on. I look up and the Tatar has his index finger resting in the handle of the window blind. including half a sausage. swinging a shining tray of gems and ornamental trinkets. stout Russian babushka takes the bunk opposite mine and complains loudly that she paid for a whole place but that half her storage has been taken up by a sack of grain. t-shirts. I remember they make beer in Karaganda. The better-scented babushka ambushes the conductor. There is a cat aboard. she accuses. (An Adidas tracksuit that might cost $10 at Dordoi can be sold at a market in Russia for $40. A boy comes by hawking cheap radios. The next morning the same babushka still stinks the same stink. “Why show him? Never mind. We lift it down and put it inside an old linen bag disguised as dirty bed clothes. who placed the orders. Money is exchanged openly. a dot to Karaganda’s blot. I clean them away with toilet paper. This isn’t the only train packing contraband. while the Tatar lies silently playing with his phone and the young girl reads on the end of my berth until I fall asleep and she climbs to her bunk. I try to read but every few minutes a wave of rotting stomach air envelopes the cabin. but no one says a word. has been chewed away. to whom I pass the bag. the same Kazakh woman sells the same fresh peroshki as . untroubled between mattresses or wrapped in sheets. it transpires. subjected to sniffer dogs and official intimidation “Where is your heroin?” I was asked one time . The smell becomes intolerable. mobile phones. “ Adidas tracksuits. I am glad for it. At the borders the carriages are stripped. overcast sky. sandwiched between sacks of contraband grain and a grandma with foul breath. I read again. At 7 am only I am awake. The babushka with the bad breath steps off the train leaving fish stains in her place. both tittilating and tiring (archive) jeans. uncles. but doesn’t buy. Outside the steppe glides past unchanging. December2013 The Spektator flash.” Secretly she is ashamed: she knows there are no animals on the train. She is met by no-one and walks off into a headwind. Both babushki are shocked and appalled. She left it on the floor of the train overnight and the corner of the bag.” he offers. on time to the minute. The young boy comes by again. “There are no animals on this train!” The conductor defends his institution. “People saw it!” she contests. She knows her bag was pre-chewed. I tell him a book. As she rants I am hit by a foul blow of ancient breath. a Soviet blot on pristine steppe. Below and Right Eurasia’s train stations can be The Bishkek-Moscow train is regularly fitted with bundles of goods. complaining that they are more expensive on the train than in the shop. diamonds. She asks what I’m writing and I tell her a diary. before adding that it might be a mouse. She says goodbyes on her phone as we wait to depart. two sacks of grain are negligible. countless Chinese goods make their way from Dordoi onto Russian bound trains every week. I’ve already thrown it away. but another follows selling electric children’s toys that buzz and As 2013 slips into 2014 the Spektator hops on a Kazakhstani train in an existential frame of mind.