Uzbek dry law reports rebutted as alcohol sales remain brisk

An alcohol shop in Chirchik
Recent reports of the dry law in Uzbekistan have proved to have been exaggerated. Trade in alcoholic beverages is continuing but on a smaller scale as beer and relevant signboards have disappeared from shops in Tashkent.

Earlier it was reported that all alcohol shops had been closed and beer disappeared from the shelves of food shops in Tashkent since 1 October.

Beer is really gone as the law on limiting the spread and use of alcohol and tobacco products equated it to strong drinks and it is banned from being sold in food shops. From now on it will only be sold in special alcohol shops, cafes and restaurants. The same applies to cigarettes.

As for alcohol shops, not more than half or one third of them have really been closed.

Walking for one and half hours in Yunusabad, one of Tashkent’s residential areas, an correspondent counted 22 outlets, 16 of them shops and six cafes, which were freely trading in alcohol drinks of all types. No shortage of spirits was observed.

However, it was noticeable that the majority of alcohol shops had removed their signboards.

At the same time, there is no feeling that the law is working in towns in Tashkent Region.

For example, all alcohol shops in Chirchik are open normal hours and packages of glass and plastic bottles are still offered in local markets where prices are cheaper than in Tashkent.

One may assume that the authorities are simply turning a blind eye on the fact that the majority of shops do not have a licence to sell alcohol beverages since they provide big tax revenues.

In line with the law, “trade outlets located within a radius of 500 metres from educational, sport and religious establishments” are banned from selling alcohol and tobacco products.

However, there is hardly a place like that in the two-million-strong Tashkent. There are some schools and colleges (less frequently mosques) all around the city, especially in densely populated residential districts of the capital.

In other words, if the law had been observed, all alcohol shops would have been closed down. But so far sales remain brisk.