Villagers along the frontier between Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan have long known that officials were heading their way to translate lines on a map into an international border that would slice through their neighbourhoods – in some cases their homes. The contours of the 2,350-kilometre border were set out in a delimitation agreement between the two former Soviet states as long ago as 2002. But in the small village of Kaplanbek – the first residential area to have the frontier lines set out – locals are confronting a difficult future. Uzbek frontier guards put up a sign on 11 August this year to say where one country starts and another finishes. While Kazakhstan authorities insist no-one will lose out, Kazakh nationals whose property ends up ‘abroad’ say they are being offered miserly compensation. One elderly villager recounts the plight of his Kazakh relative whose kitchen is now in Uzbekistan while his bedroom remains in Kazakhstan: he has been offered $7,000 for his farmhouse in a district in which the money would not buy him more than a ‘ruined hut’ for his family of 10.
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