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Subsidized Food Rations Cut In Turkmen Capital Amid Shortages, Price Hikes

A market in Ashgabat. (file photo)
A market in Ashgabat. (file photo)

ASHGABAT -- Authorities in the Turkmen capital, Ashgabat, have cut subsidized food rations for residents amid acute shortages and rising prices.

RFE/RL correspondents report that, according to the new regulations, a subsidized food ration for 10 days will be allocated per house in the capital's Keshi district, a lowering of the allotment from the previous level, which was determined by the number of families residing in the dwelling.

The majority of private houses in the district are homes of three or more generations with residents living along with their elderly parents and the families of their grown-up children and grandchildren.

Residents complained that the subsidized food ration for 10 days includes only 1 liter of sunflower or cottonseed oil, 1 kilogram of sugar, two chicken legs, and up to 15 eggs -- barely enough, they say, for some extended families for two days.

In another district in the capital, Parakhat-7, sunflower and cottonseed oil was taken off the list of subsidized food from November 1.

Individuals working at subsidized food stores confirmed to RFE/RL that they had to cut the ration because food supplies to the stores had been lowered.

The cut in food supplies comes amid the dire economic situation in the tightly controlled former Soviet republic, marked by rising unemployment, food and medicine shortages, and overdue salaries and pensions.

Government critics and human rights groups say President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov has suppressed dissent and made few changes since he came to power after the death of autocrat Saparmurat Niyazov.

Like his late predecessor, Berdymukhammedov has relied on providing citizens with subsidized goods and utilities to help maintain his grip on power.

The country has seen a dramatic increase in the number of individuals who rely on subsidized food as prices at state grocery stores rise.

Turkmenistan boasts the world's fourth-largest proven natural-gas reserves but has been mired in an economic slump worsened by the coronavirus pandemic, which the Turkmen government officially denies.

According to Human Rights Watch, Berdymukhammedov, "his relatives, and their associates control all aspects of public life, and the authorities encroach on private life."

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