For already several days, public in the city of Bishkek is discussing a huge fire in outskirts of the city. One of February evenings, a wholesale trade market was set on the fire, where mainly Chinese traders sell their goods. 400 containers and 150 warehouses with goods were reduced to ashes. Like many other markets, the Bishkek wholesale trade market was built up chaotically and compactly. Fire-engines simply cannot drive up to the firing places. Moreover, synthetic materials which are generally sold in such markets burn very well. To be short, in four hours, the fire was contained, though nothing but metal construction was left. According to official data, the damage made to the traders is 6-8 million dollars. Though the traders themselves consider the real sum to be much bigger. But what is undeniable, is that the fire ruined many traders who supplied cheap goods of Chinese production. What was mostly discussed is the pillage that accompanied the fire. The policemen who cordoned off the market say about 10 thousand people gathered around the fire. Many of them really forced their way to the market’s territory and carried away everything what had kept safe. For example, a Mercedes was detained full of stolen textiles. A beat carried out by the police in the neighbouring houses and villages also showed sad results: only in the neighbouring houses, 3 tons of textile with fire signs on the packing were found. The damaged traders state, among the pillagers, there were the policemen, too. All the more, that there were almost 1,000 police workers from different services on the fire. Now, the market’s owners negotiate with official authorities about at least partial compensation to the traders. Though the traders hardly have good prospects in this sense, and first of all because nobody of the traders has insured his goods against fire. In the story, there is one more, very dangerous aspect. That was already third fire on the market. Though all the times law-enforcers register only an “occasional ignition.” This time, again there was only one version: disrepair of electric wiring. While the traders are sure of another reason: “Mafia’s settling scores.” For example, they say about a similar market, from where many times menaces sounded and demands to “go back to China.” They also remember that after the previous fire, representatives of an autonomous region of China came to Bishkek and were shot in the very centre of the city. While a bit later, the leader of Uigur Chinese diaspora in Bishkek was killed just before his house. Official authorities of the republic are seriously concerned with the latest event. The Chinese business makes a big part of the republic’s economy. A solid part of the former trade is based upon it. Moreover, at the beginning of this year, Bishkek launched cooperation with Kirghis autonomous region situated just in Singjiang, in China. Coal and electric power were planned to export there. Now, these plans are threatened. Therefore, crime is becoming an important factor of international relations, which destabilizes situation in the big region. Yuri Razgulaev PRAVDA.Ru Bishkek Kirghizia
Translated by Vera Solovieva
Read the original in Russian: http://www.pravda.ru/main/2002/02/27/37632.html
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