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Tajik Butchers Arrested Over Price Hikes

A Tajik woman buys beef at a market in Dushanbe (file photo)
A Tajik woman buys beef at a market in Dushanbe (file photo)
DUSHANBE -- At least 10 butchers have been arrested in the Tajik capital, Dushanbe, for failing to comply with a "recommendation" by the mayor to lower the price of beef, RFE/RL's Tajik Service reports.

Mayor Mahmadsaid Ubaidulloev complained on May 10 that beef prices had risen from 23 somonis ($5.10) to 27 somonis ($5.99) per kilogram.

Dushanbe police department spokesman Nusratullo Sayedov confirmed that some butchers have been arrested and are being questioned. "Citizens who do not obey will be punished and their shops will be closed," he said.

Butchers protest that municipal officials are not empowered to dictate prices. They say the higher prices they charge reflect a wholesale price increase caused by an abrupt rise in gasoline prices coupled with the decline in value of the somoni against the U.S. dollar.

Some economists and lawyers have also criticized the arrests, saying they will exacerbate the situation. Shops will be closed, the supply of beef and other foods will be inadequate to meet demand, and this will serve to drive up prices, they say.

Read more in Tajik here