Shop owners at Abu Sahiy market in Tashkent extorted to make contributions to the cotton harvest

The administration of Tashkent’s Abu Sahiy market, which embraces few hundred shops, has ordered each shop owner to support the cotton harvest, either through payments of at least 300 thousand Som, or hiring labourers. The market administration threatens to seize the shops of those who refuse to comply with the order. One of Ozodlik’s sources close to the market administration confirmed this fact.

According to another source of Ozodlik, money extortion for the cotton harvesting is taking place since September 5th. As the source revealed, each shop owner is required to pay 50 to 200 USD, depending on trade volumes.

“You either send out someone for harvesting cotton or pay the required sum. If you decide to use the money to hire laborers you have to pay 40 thousand Som per day, which actually amounts to 1,2 million Som per month. This includes monthly food expenses too. Otherwise, you must find and employ a laborer by yourself,” says one of the shop owners at Abu Sahiy.

Another entrepreneur who owns a shop at Abu Sahiy revealed that the administration would cause problems in case one cannot fulfil the given conditions.

“If we do not fulfil their requests, they will surely cause problems for us. The tax inspection would come and find some wrongdoings or violations. But in fact, we all are forced to violate certain regulations. It is just impossible to work fairly. For none of us.”

One of the shop owners mentioned that great pressure was being put on the ones who deny to follow any of the given options.

“They do not really ask you why you refused to hire a laborer or pay the money. They stay silent, but they may get you into trouble later. You become their ‘target’. Thus, it is better to comply with what they demand.”

One of Ozodlik’s sources close to the market administration confirmed that “this practice has been going on for 3-4 years, but has never been publicly discussed”.
The source added that these methods are being applied at other markets as well.