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Bishkek's 'Eternal Flame' Is Snuffed Out

Kyrgyz soldiers lay a wreath at the "eternal flame" monument during WWII Victory Day celebrations in Bishkek last year.
Kyrgyzstan's "eternal flame" war memorial in the capital, Bishkek, is intended as an everlasting homage to the former Soviet Union's glorious victory in World War II.

Its gas-fueled fire is supposed to burn brightly at all times in honor of those who laid down their lives for the Motherland in its fight against fascism.

Unfortunately, it seems this noble notion for a memorial cuts no ice with the gas man.

According to the AP and Interfax news agencies, the Kyrgyzgaz utilities company announced this week that it was tired of waiting for an outstanding gas bill of $9,400 to be settled and said it was cutting off the supply.

With the flick of a switch, Bishkek's perpetual fire was snuffed out on April 24.

The fact that this eternal flame has spluttered in Kyrgyzstan is perhaps a reflection of the cash-strapped country's dismal financial state, which has been exacerbated by years of political unrest and a sluggish economy.

Nonetheless, despite some confusion over who exactly is responsible for the Bishkek bill, Kyrgyzgaz said it hoped the city's eternal flame can be reignited by May 9, when most former Soviet republics celebrate victory in World War II.

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