Upon reaching Sweden after living illegally in Russia for nearly a decade, 32-year-old Keymir Berdiev hoped his days of running had come to end.
But after failing to provide sufficient documentation to prove to Swedish authorities that returning to his native Turkmenistan would place him in danger, he was due to be deported there on May 20. He had not been expelled by late afternoon, however.
From the Tajik-Afghan border in the south to Kyrgyzstan's capital of Bishkek in the north, it has been a violent winter. The cold months are usually an uneventful time in mountainous Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, but this season was different.
Outside forces have competed for influence in Kyrgyzstan since the vacuum left by the Soviet Union's collapse two decades ago.
Kyrgyzstan allowed the United States to use its Manas airport for supporting efforts in Afghanistan and eagerly welcomed Chinese investment. Bishkek also granted Russia use of an air base at Kant. Kyrgyz policy appeared to play one power off against another.
New guest workers are coming to the cotton and rice fields of southern Tajikistan, and they are already sowing seeds of discontent.
Locals are outraged at the prospect of Chinese farmers arriving to work Tajik land, following Dushanbe's decision this week to lease out 2,000 hectares of land to the Uyghur Autonomous Region in western China.
Caged in the back of a courtroom, they were attacked by police during a court recess. When their lawyer complained, he was beaten by civilians attending the trial, then followed outside the courthouse, where he was set upon in full view of police, who were slow to intervene.
Turkmenistan, so key to the energy plans of so many, had long shown its readiness to break Russia's stranglehold on its gas and oil exports. But Ashgabat has offered few hints as to who it prefers as an alternative.
KARA-SUU, southern Kyrgyzstan -- Six weeks after ethnic violence between Kyrgyz and minority Uzbeks engulfed southern Kyrgyzstan, people are gathering for Friday prayers at the Imam Sharahshi Mosque. The white, three-story building sits near a canal that marks the border with Uzbekistan.