Shoot Me: differences between Tashkent and Bishkek

A view of Bishkek; photo:
Compared to Tashkent, Bishkek is a relatively free city and Uzbeks can learn from it, Shoot Me experts believe.

Experts of the Shoot Me open society visited Bishkek, the Kyrgyz capital a few days ago: film critic Oleg Karpov, author Rifat Gumerov and culture expert Aleksey Ulko.

“Interestingly, will we manage to find 10 differences between Bishkek and Tashkent,” Karpov asked.

“I have a feeling that I ended up in a time machine which took me to 20 years ago,” Gumerov said.

“Yes, it does seem that you ended in Soviet times in the 1990s and in this quite Soviet environment something absolutely un-Soviet is taking place,” Ulko said. “For example, people freely sit under some monument and no-one is hassling anyone or chasing around.”

“Government buildings have fewer fences and there are few, almost invisible, policemen on the streets and there are rallies,” Karpov commented.

“I was surprised that street names are Soviet, for example, Yong Guard and I liked the treatment of monuments: monuments have not been removed and new ones have not replaced the old ones,” Gumerov said. “For example, we have seen a monument called They Fought for Communism.”

“I was surprised by the amount of right-hand drive. Exchange offices are everywhere,” Gumerov continues. “But when I asked whether I could exchange Uzbek sums I was looked down. Generally, I felt freedom.”

“But they do not have ‘beautiful’ buildings like in our country. The facelift of buildings is not widespread compared to Uzbekistan,” Karpov ironised.

“Tashkent is a very bourgeois city with a more prosperous appearance and it is clean unlike Bishkek where all cars are dirty. Drivers are fined for that in our country,” Gumerov said.

“I liked precisely that cars are dirty there,” Ulko said. In the situation of shortages of water in our country I would have closed all carwash shops. I was also surprised how they cross the road there.”

“No, no-one uses zebra crossings in our country because it is dangerous but there people do use them,” Karpov said.

“I was surprised by politeness of drivers who let passengers cross the road – it is even somehow strange,” Gumerov said.

Details of the discussion of differences between Bishkek and Tashkent are in the latest issue of the joint video programme of the Shoot Me open society and