When 37-year-old Georgii Kolotov was growing up in Bishkek during the last decade of the Soviet era, he was largely unaware of a Jewish community. There were more than 10,000 Jews living in Bishkek at the time, but for young Kolotov and most other Jews, there was little sense of a distinctly Jewish identity.
In mid-2010, when 20-year-old Sultan Temirzhan uulu left Kyrgyzstan to attend university in St. Petersburg, he was unprepared for the big city noise and the White Nights of summer. He was also unprepared for the discrimination.
During the summer, Rakhmat Kobilov rises at 4 am, eats breakfast, and drives 45 miles to the farm where he cultivates cucumbers, watermelon, and a fragrant variety of cantaloupe indigenous to Uzbekistan’s Fergana Valley.