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Kyrgyzstan gas company extinguishes ‘Eternal Flame’ due to unpaid bill

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Kyrgyzstan extinguishes 'Eternal Flame' over unpaid gas bill (AP/Dmitry Lovetsky)

It is unwise to test the patience of Bishkek's gas-supply services. A power company in Kyrgyzstan recently extinguished the former Soviet nation's "Eternal Flame" because of an unpaid gas bill.

That might sound downright unpatriotic, but in fairness to the gas company, it was a pretty big bill; the government owed around $9,400. The debt, according to the company, is more than three years old.

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The flame, located in the capital city of Bishkek, honors the soldiers who fought in World War II. There seems to be some confusion over who was actually supposed to pay the bill. According to a buzzy piece from Time, authorities hoped to have the flame relit by May 9, "the day most former Soviet republics celebrate their victory over the Nazis." An unconfirmed report claims the flame was relit after just five hours.

Each year on May 9, the country holds a military parade, during which dignitaries and government officials "stand before the Eternal Flame while soldiers lay wreaths around it."

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Kyrgyzstan is located in Central Asia and bordered by China, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan. The nation has a population of around 5.5 million and a GDP per capita of $1,068. Roughly 90% of the country is mountainous. Kyrgyzstan's citizens and government have suffered through tough economic times in recent years.

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