Kyrgyzstan Mulls Curbs on Alcohol Sales
Proposed ban would apply to retail sales after ten in the evening.
Kyrgyzstan’s parliament is considering a proposal to prohibit sales of alcohol after ten in the evening.
A bill has been given preliminary approval by legislators but will require further debate.
Although Kyrgyzstan is a predominantly Muslim country, alcohol is widely available. The plan for a 10pm curfew does not appear to be driven by religious objections, however. Police say crime and drink are closely linked, and all the more so overnight. Others interviewed by IWPR said there were a lot of drunks around late in the evening so they would welcome the ban.
Dastan Bekeshov, one of the parliamentarians behind the bill, says that a similar ban is in force in Russia, Kazakstan and Belarus, all members of the Eurasian Economic Union which Kyrgyzstan joined in May. He argues that Kyrgyzstan needs to follow suit as continuing to allow 24-hours-a-day sales would encourage beverage companies to focus more on the local market, and as a result, “our population will drink itself silly”.
The sales ban will not affect bars or restaurants, but Bekeshov would like to see a better licensing system in place so that they pay more tax on the high-markup they charge per bottle.
Others say that if the law is passed, people will simply ignore it as they do with many others. One retail trader told IWPR that selling drink was so profitable that she would carry on doing so under the counter.
However, the current version legislation also envisages a complete ban on alcohol sales from the kiosks and cabins that are common in urban areas. Alcohol will then only be available from established shops and supermarkets, which are unlikely to risk breaking the rules.
Iskender Aliyev is an IWPR contributor in Kyrgyzstan.
This audio programme went out in Russian and Kyrgyz on national radio stations in Kyrgyzstan. It was produced under two IWPR projects, Investigative Journalism to Promote Democratic Reform, funded by the European Union; and Strengthening Capacities, Bridging Divides in Central Asia, funded by the Foreign Ministry of Norway. The contents of this article are the sole responsibility of IWPR and can in no way be taken to reflect the views of the EU or the Norwegian government.