BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan – When is an "Eternal Flame" not eternal? In Kyrgyzstan, it's when you don't pay the gas bill.
A utilities company in the economically struggling former Soviet nation has turned off the gas supply to a major war memorial in the capital, Bishkek, after city authorities failed to clear a $9,400 debt.
The episode reflects the dismal financial state of the Central Asian nation, which has been wracked for years by political unrest and a sluggish economy.
Taalai Dalbayev, head of Bishkek gas supply services for Kyrgyzgas, said Wednesday that the bill has been outstanding for 3 years.
Despite confusion over who exactly is meant to foot the bill, Kyrgyzgas say it hopes the flame can be reignited by May 9, when most ex-Soviet republics celebrate victory in World War II.