BISHKEK. Uzbek authorities are allowing more pedestrians to cross the Dostuk border post. Another big post in the town of Karasuu was unilaterally closed by the Uzbek side on January 8, 2003. Karasuu district officials told RFERL next day that the Uzbek side said they made the decision to avoid, what they say, contaminated Kyrgyz food entering Uzbekistan. Adam Zakirov, head of the Karasuu district administration, said that the Kyrgyz authorities are opposed to the move, adding that it will complicate the lives of ordinary people. Now the people who usually used the Karasuu bridge partly dismantled by the Uzbek officials, have to use the Dostuk border post riding about additional 45 km. At the end of December, Uzbekistan closed its border with Kazakhstan, citing the same reasons.
Health officials in Tashkent, the Uzbek capital, have said there has been n-o recent observation of an outbreak of infectious diseases, and that the border closures seem to be an attempt to cut off outflows of cash after Uzbekistan introduced new customs rules that sent consumers flooding to neighboring countries.
Meanwhile, the Batken region administration in Southern Kyrgyzstan today sent a letter to the neighboring Ferghana region administration urging them to discuss an issue of the border posts around the Uzbek enclaves in Batken. The Kyrgyz officials proposed the Uzbek administration to remove the border and custom posts in the disputed areas to allow the Ferghana valley residents to have freedom of movement via the enclaves.