21 september 2020

Central Asia news

Uzbekistan is facing a crisis fomented by food shortage

10.09.2007 09:17 msk

Novye Izvestia

Business Uzbekistan

Population of the Ferghana Valley, traditionally one of the least tranquil regions of Uzbekistan, organized mass protest actions against the price rise. One of the protest actions took place in the district center of Altaaryk on September 3. The protesters demanded lower prices for foods. Surprisingly, the protest was permitted to run its course. It is not exactly typical of Uzbekistan where the authorities never hesitate to strong-arm dissenters into submission.

Average salary in Uzbekistan nowadays amounts to $20-30. A kilogram of dough in the meantime costs 1,250 sums ($1) and beef goes at $5.7 a kilogram. Altaaryk authorities did not even order the police to disperse protesters. These latter marched to the building of the local administration where some minor functionaries promised to "see to it" that their demands are met. Observers suspect that the local administration was ordered to permit protests. President Islam Karimov likes plays "protector of the people" every now and then. Analogous protest actions meanwhile took place in the Andijan and Namangan regions. Security structures there did go to a higher alert status but never received the order to disperse protest actions.

The authorities are trying to solve the problem at private businesses' expense.

Uzmetronom.com web site reports that vendors at bazaars are ordered to keep prices down. It comforts the population some, but results in shortages. Private bakeries closed down not long ago because of similar administrative pressure.

As a matter of fact, the food crisis ha already reached the capital of Uzbekistan. Ferghana.Ru news agency reports regular queues for vegetable oil in Tashkent where it goes for 2,300 sums at stores and 1,800 at bazaars.

Mekhman Gafarly

Novye Izvestia, September 5, 2007, p. 4