Staunton, October 22 – In the latest indication of the rapidly deteriorating situation in Turkmenistan, the Ashgabat authorities are stopping cars leaving the city and imposing fines on those carrying more than a minimal amount of food from the better supplied capital city to the hard-hit regions.
This development, reported at hronikatm.com/2018/10/politseyskie-shtrafuyut-voditeley-za-vyivoz-produktov-iz-ashhabada-v-regionyi/, comes on top of earlier stories about hunger and hunger-driven protests in the region and about the Turkmen authorities efforts to ensure that there is enough food in the capital. (See windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2018/06/food-situation-in-turkmenistan-not-good.html, windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2018/03/food-riots-in-turkmenistan-have-now.html and windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2018/03/hunger-spreads-in-turkmenistan.html.)
If the authorities are now trying to block people from the regions from purchasing food in the capital and then returning home, that suggests not only that food shortages in the regions are becoming more acute but also that the authorities are worried that they may spread to the capital if people from the region buy and take home too much of it.
According to the independent news agency, drivers with regional license plates leaving Ashgabat are being stopped by the police who demand the payment of fines on the stop but do not write up a ticket or give a receipt for fines paid, raising the possibility that some of this could be part of an effort by corrupt police to extract money from the population.
But given the food shortages that have been reported, it is likely that the police are acting at least in conformity with what the Turkmenistan authorities want even if they have not bothered to pass a law or issue a specific order for the imposition of fines on those who take food away from the capital.
The news agency reports that there is a long tradition of people from the regions going into the cities to get food, a tradition that extends back to Soviet times; but then unlike now, no one who did so was stopped or fined, although regional officials at least for show discouraged th practice.