Turkmenistan bans alcohol in Ashgabat ahead of major Asian sports event

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ASHGABAT (TCA) — Authorities in Turkmenistan have banned sales of alcohol in the capital, Ashgabat, ahead of the Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games (AIMAG) to be held here in September, RFE/RL’s Turkmen Service reported.

Media reports said on August 19 that liquor stores were closed down and alcoholic products taken off the shelves of food stores in the city.

There was no official announcement of an alcohol ban, but merchants at several liquor stores said authorities had ordered alcohol sales halted until October, AP reported.

AFP quoted an unidentified official in the Trade Ministry as saying the ban is related to the hosting of the AIMAG, which will take place in Ashgabat from September 17 to September 27.

Turkmenistan has put its military and law enforcement agencies on high alert for the period from August 17 until September 27, as the country is preparing and will host the Games in Ashgabat.

All security forces are to work in a 24/7 mode, the borders have to be closed, visa issuances are to be limited and customs mode is to be intensified.

The 5th Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games is the largest sports event Turkmenistan has ever hosted.

Turkmenistan wants to use the Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games to boost its image as a regional sports hub.

The authorities expect tens of thousands of foreigners to visit Turkmenistan during the event.

Ahead of the competition, authorities have restricted the movement of residents of the provinces to the capital, ordered former inmates to stay away from the games’ venues, and tried to clear the city of stray dogs and cats as well child beggars.

Sergey Kwan

TCA