Kyrgyz woman, rescued by Manas, now languishes at Walter Reed
The Washington Post has a good feature on the sad aftermath of a hearts-and-minds gesture by officers at Manas Air Base. A woman from Kyrgyzstan, Lyudmila Sukhanov, was dying of an intestinal ailment in a Bishkek hospital in 2002 when she came to the attention of U.S. officers at Manas, who realized she could be saved if she were taken to a hospital outside Kyrgyzstan.
But with Kyrgyz cooperation vital to the United States, saving Lyuda, as she came to be known, was not only humane but also strategic, a goodwill gesture directed at a vital but skittish ally. The request to medevac her received the blessing of the commander of U.S. forces in the region, Gen. Tommy Franks, and then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. In early 2003, a C-17 military transport plane braved dangerous conditions to airlift Sukhanov first to Germany and then to Washington.
Now her medical condition has stabilized, but she's not well enough to go back to Kyrgyzstan. So she's stuck in the U.S., watching too much TV, costing taxpayers "millions" and apparently arousing the resentment of doctors and nurses at Walter Reed who say she's monopolizing a bed in the hospital.
Joshua Kucera is the Turkey/Caucasus editor at Eurasianet, and author of The Bug Pit.
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