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11 Apr, 2010 18:20

Kyrgyzstan revolution is run by rumors - witness report

Kyrgyzstan revolution is run by rumors - witness report

Well known photographer Sergey Mukhamedov visited riot-torn Bishkek where he learned that most of the news is not true.

There is also a crowd in front of the government building, but we have the “I’m the press” look, and we are pushed inside. The halls are full of men in strict suits, the doors sport signs “headquarters”, “international department”, “funeral department”. Three girls work with press, they do not even ask for our papers, inquiring only about the media we work for. This time we say,

- Russia Today TV channel, Moscow office.

The fact that we have photo cameras and not video ones doesn’t bother anyone here. We search for Roza’s assistants, but in vain. We decide to move on to a hospital. The lady responsible for medicine tells us a sniper was shooting only heads and groins, the wounded are in four hospitals.

- So do you want to see the injuries ward or the urology one?

- The injuries ward is where journalists have not visited yet.

center, professor Sabyrbek Artisbekovich Dzhumambekov, heaped dozens of figures of arrivals and surgeries on us. He told us how the doctors carried the wounded out on stretchers. Snipers did not shoot at white-clad people, but the crowd hurt them, 5 nurses were beaten, one car window smashed.

- Do you have any marauders among the injured?

- Yes, they can be identified by the types of wounds and the time of arrival. Gun shells and birdshot. But we treat all our patients the same. Normally they say they only entered a building to take a look and suddenly someone shot them.

- Do you turn them over to the police?

- No.

- Why? Don’t you have to?

- Earlier we did, but now we are too busy for it. If they come and ask about the wounds, we’ll tell them.

Aslabek is a professional opposition member with over 20 years of experience.

- How did that happen?

- I was in the crowd, then heard a shot. I fell. They put me on police shields and carried me away.

- Was it in the very beginning of the shootout?

- No, in the middle.

They tell all kinds of stories about snipers. One of the versions is there were six of them. Two escaped, one was slit like a sheep, one shot, and two more are half-dead somewhere. And all of them are mercenaries from Baltic states.

One of the journalists told us how he survived a shootout.

- I was hiding there, and then Bang! Bang! – two dead bodies right behind me, both shot in the head!

We did not ask why a radio journalist was in the middle of it. And why the place he described has no flowers like all the others where people died.

The son of president Bakieyv, Maksim, was loathed by the people and his house was one of the first to be pillaged. The rumor here is this: Maksim goes into a night club with 19 bodyguards armed to their teeth and tells everyone, “Men leave. Girls stay!” There’s nothing in the rumor about the fate of all the girls.

People visit this place as if it is a museum.

A rumor circulates that Bakiyev will be arrested in Osh, and editorial offices urgently send their journalists there. But we head to the location where homeless Kyrghyz people grabbed the last piece of land that used to belong to the tarnished authorities.

The raiders divide the area using stones and garbage into “private spots”. They made lists and now will sit here day and night until they get official permits to own the land. They are very aggressive, as they are many, and the land is scarce. In half an hour a messenger came to us advise us we had better leave for good, supporting his words by the argument “your equipment must be expensive, huh?” No one here want to be included in the pictures.

- Why can’t we take photos? You’ve even given your names in those lists!

- You in Russia will laugh at us.

I jest, “Why didn’t they have any pedestrian ways between their plots? Let’s tell them”. But the joke’s no good. “Are you insane? They’ll rip us to pieces!”

An informer tells us tanks are driving on the road encircling the city. We run there headlong. Driving in the wrong lane, we finally catch up with a number of heavy military machinery. Judging by the direction, they are headed towards Osh. We already imagine sending exclusive pictures to leading news agencies… and discover they are moving towards their stationing.

In the night with a group of citizens-in-arms we went marauder-hunting. The minibus with red ribbons on its rear view mirrors and a sign “People protection squad Spartacus” was driving through the central streets.

- Why aren’t we going into the side streets?

- What for? We won’t hear them.

- Can’t it be that they rob and pillage quietly?

- They are all crazy, but they still have some understanding.

- Then you should at least open the windows…

We notice a column of trucks loaded with special forces.

- Let’s follow them! Something must be happening! – scream the excited citizens-in-arms.

While I was wondering what it is we might do to help dozens of trained military personnel, the trucks turned around and went back. Police cars with flashing lights and a multitude of buses filled the streets. Their sirens howling, they drove around the city in circles demonstrating their power.

Bishkek is under control. Tomorrow the world will forget about Kyrghyzstan for some five years more. Bid farewell to my one hundred bucks for the taxi and media attention. The question that tortured me all day is now completely solved. Now I know why the Internet and mobile connection are working alright here, but it’s American friends that tell the stories from the streets of Bishkek in their blogs. The absolute majority does not give a damn about this revolution, and they have nothing to say. All the real events happened on the 7th of April, and after those super-intense hours nothing really happened.

Sergey Mukhamedov for RT