Kyrgyzstan’s Eternal Flame Extinguished Due to Unpaid Gas Bill

When you said "eternal," you didn't really mean, like, forever, did you?

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Vyacheslav Oseledko / AFP / Getty

Honour guard soldiers lay a wreath at the Eternal Flame during Victory Day celebrations in Bishkek on May 9, 2011 in commemoration of the end of WWII

Finally exhausted of its patriotic magnanimity, a utilities company in Kyrgyzstan has cut the gas supply to the ex-Soviet state’s war memorial flame after the government failed to pay a gas bill of more than $9,000.

Taalai Dalbayev, head of Bishkek gas supply services for Kyrgyzgas, told the Associated Press that the company snuffed out the capital’s venerated flame, honoring the soldiers who fought in World War II, after the outstanding debt had accumulated for three years.

(MORE: Faded Tulips: Kyrgyzstan’s Counterfeit Revolution)

Although there’s some confusion as to who exactly is supposed to fund the flame, Kyrgyzgas says it hopes to have the matter settled and the flame relit by May 9, the day most former Soviet republics celebrate their victory over the Nazis.

Maybe it’s not surprising that the government is having trouble footing its fuel bills; last month, operators of the country’s biggest gold mine, which accounts for a large chunk of Kyrgyzstan’s economy, announced they would be forced to cut production by a third due to excessive ice. Hey, we know something they could have melted it with, if only they’d paid the bill.

MORE: Why Kyrgyzstan’s Presidential Election Matters

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