Karakol, with all its numerous suburbs, is the only agglomeration of Issyk-Kul, located where it is most convenient for Silk Road traders to find shelter after mountain passes – either leaving China or preparing to go directly to China. It is not surprising that Karakol’s culinary specialty, ashlan-fu, is a soup of Chinese origin. Russians appeared in Karakol relatively late. Merchants from the Volga region engaged in trade with Iran and Central Asia through Khiva, the surroundings of which are inhabited by Karakalpaks – the closest and most accessible from the Caspian basin. Centuries later, during the Romanov Empire, the freedom-loving inhabitants of Tian Shan, who had many questions about the oppressive tax system modeled after classical Eastern cities, including Bukhara, Samarkand, and Fergana, became allies of the Tsarist Empire in opposition to the authorities in Kokand. Russian military travelers who made their way to their lands, the most famous of whom was Przhevalsky, found a convenient refuge in the Karakol area. The interested population and the fairly pleasant microclimate – thanks to the closed basin of mountains around the huge lake and snowy peaks – made it a comfortable place for them.

русский особняк в Караколе

Is it possible to consider Karakol and Bishkek as cities founded by Russians? During the colonial era (16th-18th centuries), additional military administrations were established and flags were raised in cities based on reasons for “city development”. This was more influenced by the landscape of the trading routes than the nominal location of the administration. The population’s habit of benefiting from interactions with “clearly different” people even during difficult times created a more comfortable environment for settling in as much as possible.

Contribution of the Russian Population – Yesterday and Potential

In Karakol, the Russian population has brought pleasant houses with carved cornices, horticulture (to this day, a row of flower shops is situated not just anywhere, but right in front of the entrance to the Trinity Church area) and introduced locals to sophisticated professions that require years of experience, which is often lacking among the mountain population due to a lack of patience and perseverance.

In the Soviet era, the only quay wall in the world at 1,609 meters above sea level was established here, on which stood a genuine port crane and two industrial cranes. Improved hot spring baths were created, and the most outstanding skiing resort in Central Asia was established.

The park around the grave of Przhevalsky, which local residents love for wedding ceremonies, is made in an aesthetic that would be familiar in Russia: a hill now covered with dense coniferous trees overlooking a large water body and mountains simultaneously.

The “concentrated Russian” idea behind the suburb of Karakol, which locals often refer to as the “harbor,” is very well thought out in its essence: a pleasant landscape with steep hills, approaching the village from one side, while the other side is lined with the shore of a vast lake. All in a region with a much milder and more even climate than is typically found in Central Asia. It is evident that the designer understood very well the rhythms in which Russian people have been comfortable living for thousands of years.

Unfortunately, some independent Russian lifestyle format has yet to take root here, although the nominal potential is enormous. The problem is that the Soviet person, like the typical person from the old kingdom (except the Old Believers), became so intertwined with the successes and failures of the state apparatus that when it collapsed, he or she quickly decided not to make any effective efforts towards independent survival in this new environment. The Russian community’s origins can be of considerable benefit to both Karakol and Kyrgyzstan as a whole, but it requires an approach similar to the Chinese Dungan people, who have already decided that they are uncomfortable with their central government – not only due to specific situational events but also due to the nature of the authority. If a comprehensive landscaping program is implemented, Karakol Harbor could be an excellent location for the community to establish a campus with its distinctive lifestyle.

The price of empires. What you need to let go of in your consciousness in order to live successfully in Kyrgyzstan.

Once, Kokand oppressed the locals in response to taxes significantly smaller than expected, while China invests in assimilating Kyrgyz living southeast of the Tian Shan Mountains, in the Kashgar District, Kyzylsu. The governments of St. Petersburg and Moscow, understanding such an indeterminate substance as state interest through the eyes of petty bureaucracy in the “triumph of our type of people,” pursued several political initiatives that yielded no positive conclusions except bitterness and the question “why?” in history. An attempt to turn the Chui Valley – the “Semirechye” according to the assimilation classification – into a new Kuban by displacing the local population and settling Cossacks cannot be explained other than with laughable logical constructions, such as “the significant fault of foreign intelligence services that provoked it” even by big supporters of Kremlin-type power. “The need to maneuver among other ships that ended up in the sea for no reason exhausted our brave captain, and he, annoyed, threw a third of the crew overboard” – the logic is roughly the same.

Large associations of people concentrate resources against their will and put the people in the position of having to use new technologies, while the forces of nature establish natural boundaries to such power. Kyrgyz historically settled areas where the action of natural forces is evident and much more powerful than empires and corporations. If the rhythms of a society formed under such conditions resonate with you, “some features of the Russian mentality” (mostly regarding illusions about power and leadership) will not hinder you from living here for your pleasure and helping those around you with useful activities. Despite past mistakes (the Kyrgyz have enough collective wisdom to understand or feel that such mistakes were not made of people’s own free will en masse) – the local society is more than many others truly open to cooperation.

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