“Disgracing the country”: Ashgabat police raid against queue of people for subsidized bread

Police in Ashgabat, the capital of Turkmenistan, have staged raids against civilians. People who queue for subsidized bread even before dawn began to be checked en masse near state shops. The reason – in this way, according to the authorities, citizens “disgrace” the country. This was reported by Radio Azatlyk.

According to their information, the authorities did not like the fact that residents of some neighborhoods were sleeping under trees near state shops to have time to buy subsidized bread, and therefore the employees of etrap police departments began to search for residents and, in particular, children who are on the street at night. Law enforcers require citizens to show a passport or other identification. If they do not have the documents with them, they give them a warning, but if a person is caught a second time without documents, they are threatened with being taken to the police station.

At a time of economic crisis and impoverishment of a large part of the population, people do not pay attention to the rain and autumn cold. To get food, they are ready not to sleep, but to feed their families. However, the authorities do not understand this and perceive the deed of Ashgabat residents as “shameful” for the whole of Turkmenistan and its government. The police assure people that there is no hunger in the country and, therefore, there is no need to stand under shops long before dawn.

There was no official comment from the Ashgabat Department of Internal Affairs on the situation. And it is unlikely that people feel the need to do so. The country has had problems with subsidized products such as flour, bread, and vegetable oil in Turkmenistan’s state shops for more than 6 years in the conditions of a prolonged economic crisis. And the further it goes, the worse it gets. Rations of vegetable oil and flour in the state shops are released with a delay of several months, and the residents themselves are forced to buy expired goods, which, in addition, lose quality: bugs and worms breed in them.

Calling the queues of people under the state shops “shameful”, the authorities also forget that against the background of the crisis and unemployment, the lion’s share of Turkmen families simply depends on subsidized food products. Would they sacrifice their sleep in favor of bread if they had enough in their wallets?

It should be recalled that on 6 November 2023, a delegation of Turkmenistan headed by Deputy Foreign Minister Vepa Hajiyev made a report at the session of the UN Universal Periodic Review Working Group in Geneva. In addition to concerns about human rights violations, the Canadian representative raised the issue of food security in Turkmenistan. And while the state rulers conceal the real problems, people continue to face acute shortages of the simplest set of subsidized foodstuffs.