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Kyrgyzstan’s State History Museum Awaits Post-Soviet Airbrushing

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A man widely thought to be former U.S. President Ronald Reagan rides a Pershing missile. The museum opened in 1984.

A man wearing a cowboy hat and an American-flag shirt sits astride a Pershing missile. His face has been peeled away, exposing his skull. Nearby, a Kyrgyz grandmother in traditional dress, a naked child and a Russian Orthodox priest, among others, demand, in English, “No more Hiroshimas!” 

The mural is one of many elaborate paintings adorning the ceilings of Bishkek’s State History Museum as they guide visitors through a broad tract of Kyrgyzstan’s history: from cavemen and mounted warriors, to the cruelties of the Russian tsar, to the Soviet Union’s victory in World War II and the years of the Cold War. 

Today the fate of the murals is uncertain. In January, Kyrgyzstan’s culture minister proposed to hide away the museum’s communist past and focus more on the country’s non-Soviet history, AKIpress reported. President Almazbek Atambayev said he supported the idea.

Little else has emerged about the plan. Both the museum’s director and the Ministry of Culture refused to discuss the collection’s future with EurasiaNet.org. 

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David Trilling is EurasiaNet's Central Asia editor.

Kyrgyzstan’s State History Museum Awaits Post-Soviet Airbrushing

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