American taxpayers spent hundreds of thousands of dollars refurbishing a women’s shelter outside Kyrgyzstan’s capital less than five years ago. Though the Central Asian country is desperately short of such crisis centers, the shelter never functioned and, a member of parliament now says, was improperly privatized instead.
As part of its 2010 humanitarian aid budget, the US airbase at Manas near Bishkek spent nearly $750,000 refurbishing a two-story hospital that was slated to become the Shopokov Women’s Development Center. At the time, a military spokesperson said the building was to serve “battered women” and provide “shelter for up to 55 women and their children.” It was owned by the Kyrgyz government and managed by Zamira Akbagysheva, at the time president of the Kyrgyz Congress of Women.
But shortly after it opened with fanfare in August 2010 – with the American ambassador and the Manas commander in attendance – EurasiaNet.org found the building shuttered and apparently being used to host for-profit language classes and photocopying services.
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Anna Lelik contributed reporting.