Astana Fencing Off Kyrgyzstan
Following the spring unrest in Kyrgyzstan, Astana has constructed a new barrier along portions of its southern border. Kazakh officials say the fence will keep out smugglers.The coils of concertina wire abut a major East-West highway near Tokmok. In one place, the new border demarcation divides a Kyrgyz gas station from the road, leaving it rusting in a no-man’s-land. Tensions with Astana flared after the April 7 uprising in Bishkek. In response, Astana unilaterally closed the border for weeks, doing untold damage to Kyrgyzstan's economy. Some have speculated that construction of the fence was a condition of membership in the new Customs Union among Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus. In an episode eerily similar to the regular violence along the Uzbek-Kyrgyz border, a shoot-out near a Kazakh-Kyrgyz frontier post left two dead earlier this week. The Kyrgyz shepherds were attempting to illegally export horses, Kazakh border officials said.