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Kyrgyzstan: Social Media Activist Takes on Bishkek City Hall

Activist Aibek Baratov uses one of the crosswalks he painted last March outside a school on Bishkek's Bokonbaeva Street. Baratov, who has thousands of active online supporters, has amassed something of a cult following in Bishkek in recent years. (Photo: David Trilling)

Late at night, Aibek Baratov is driving around Kyrgyzstan’s poorly lit capital testing his latest project. Tired of hearing about pedestrian deaths, and frustrated with a lack of interest among Bishkek city officials to address the hazard, the activist took matters into his own hands and installed reflective signs marking crosswalks.

“This is a problem that bothers me personally, and as it turned out, it bothers a lot of other people, too,” he explained. “Every day each one of us goes to school or work and we face such rudeness on the streets.”

“When I try to cross the road, and cars almost drive over my toes, it irritates me a lot,” he added.

Baratov, 31, has thousands of active online supporters, and he has gained something of a cult following in Bishkek in recent years. It all started in 2009, when he began posting videos of traffic violations, by drivers and police, on his Facebook page.

To read the full story

Asel Kalybekova is a freelance reporter based in Kyrgyzstan.

Kyrgyzstan: Social Media Activist Takes on Bishkek City Hall

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