Chris Schwartz, an American academic who teaches journalism in this leafy Central Asian capital, was waiting for a bus near a colossal female statue dedicated to revolutionary dead and a shuttered bar called Fat Boys when the expensive black SUV glided up. Three men sprang out. They grabbed a startled young woman on the sidewalk and began dragging her toward the car. She pleaded for them to stop. About 30 commuters at the bus stop watched impassively.
“Only myself and a 12-year-old boy intervened,” Schwartz recalls. “The boy decided to just follow us and record the situation with his mobile phone, which was enough to drive the main guy’s two accomplices into a panic.”
The woman’s brother arrived. Schwartz helped him convince the abductors to free the woman. The leader of the assailants furiously threatened Schwartz. But Schwartz caught a flicker of shame in his eyes. “He was conflicted,” Schwartz says of the attempted daytime abduction in April. “He was wavering.”