No-Man's Land in Central Bishkek

The mayor’s office in the Kyrgyz capital has caused a stir by assuming control of common areas of land and clearing away the kiosks that have sprung up there.

No-Man's Land in Central Bishkek

The mayor’s office in the Kyrgyz capital has caused a stir by assuming control of common areas of land and clearing away the kiosks that have sprung up there.

Monday, 25 May, 2009
The land around multi-story apartment blocks was traditionally regarded as being for the common use of residents. But shops and kiosks have appeared there in recent years, taking up space and obstructing access to facilities such as mains pipes.



Deputy mayor Alexei Filatov told reporter Ayday Tokonova that work is already under way to clear the unsanctioned shops away.



“There has to be an integrated architectural policy, and the mayor’s office has to have an influence on this process,” he said, adding that in any case the kiosks were eyesores.



The Bishkek authorities say much of the land around apartment blocks belongs to them anyway, and Filatov says residents have been asking the city to assume formal ownership because they do not want to be responsible for paying ground tax.



However, things are not that simple, according to Khalicha Omuralieva, coordinator of the Women’s Political Discussion Club, who argues that it is not clear where common areas stop and a particular housing-block’s own land plot begins.



She sees a danger that once such areas are cleared of shops, they may be sold off on the quiet by corrupt officials because the boundaries are so unclear. Filatov denies the land will be reallocated for other purposes.
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