BISHKEK. Late yesterday, Uzbekistan removed the cement blocks on abridge on the Uzbek side of a river on the border with the Kyrgyz town of Karasuu in the Ferghana Valley. Karasuu Mayor Abdusatar Shoyatov told today RFE/RL that Uzbek officials were unwilling to compromise when he tried to negotiate with them: "The Uzbeks closed the custom post, and they have removed [blocks] on their side of the bridge".
Karasuu district officials told RFERL today that the Uzbek side said they made the decision to avoid what they say is contaminated Kyrgyz food entering Uzbekistan. Adam Zaikirov, head of the Karasuu district administration, today stressed that the Kyrgyz authorities are opposed to the move, adding that it will complicate the lives of ordinary people.
About 200 protesters from both sides gathered today near the bridge to protest the decision. According to some estimates, about 20,000 people use the bridge each day to cross the river, including Uzbek merchants.