Without warning, city workers descended on a leafy street recently in Kyrgyzstan’s capital to begin chopping down trees.
The scene that unfolded on Toktonaliev Street on June 2 was the culmination of a mounting confrontation between authorities determined to make Bishkek more convenient for motorists, and residents appalled at the gradual, but steady ravaging of their once-verdant city.
In gestures of defiance that seem to have taken authorities by surprise, local residents threw themselves onto the road in an attempt to block the work. Others, holding up placards, stood in front of trees to try and save them from the saw. Normally, mild-mannered environmentalists had to be bundled away by police called to the scene.
By the end of the day, more than 140 trees had been chopped down. One poignant and widely shared image showed the lifeless body of a hatchling that had been cast out of a felled tree.
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Nurjamal Djanibekova is a reporter based in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.