Kyrgyzstan. Ascel is engaged to Sultan, the local Mr Big with the grandest house. This looks like a palace to Ascel, who lives in a hovel with her drunkard father. She doesn't love Sultan, but she wants a better life. She is having an affair with Marat and expecting his child. She marries Sultan but then leaves for Moscow for an abortion, and starts living with gastarbeiters. She sells her unborn child to Virginie, a French woman. She becomes housemaid to (and then lover of) a rich New Russian. Marat appears, starts a fight and gets taken away by police. Ascel calls Virginie and goes to stay with her in France, only to find that she has a mental disease.