Uzbek officials forced small business to close as punishment for not contributing to the cotton harvest, reports shop owner
The following article was originally published in the Uzbek language by Radio Free Europe, Radio Liberty "Ozodlik," and the interview recording can be heard here.
Assia Schatilova, the owner of a small shop in the city of Chirchik, claimed that her business was ruined. because of her refusal to pay 750 thousand som ($120) during the cotton harvest in the autumn of 2015. Here is her account:
"I have owned a small shop since 2009. I paid all taxes, the rental costs and purchased the license for entrepreneurial activity. I conducted my business as required by law. Last year, when the cotton harvest started, I was told to pay over 750 thousand som for cotton. I refused. I am a single mother with two children, I have to feed and clothe them, I pay taxes, why should I have to pay for cotton?"
"Because of my refusal, on December 29, most of my property was seized. The deputy governor of the city of Chirchik, the chief of the city police and someone from the tax office came to my shop. They simply took a product from the shop in the value of approximately 85-90 million som ($15000). They took away my property for nothing, without a reason, without showing an order of confiscation. When they entered the store, I asked them who they were. In response, the police chief shoved me, I hit and damaged my finger straining a tendon and I am still being treated for it."
"On March 28, officers from the Tashkent regional tax office came back to check the financial documents of my store. They brought some paper, an unsigned photocopy, a document ostensibly to conduct a tax audit. They seized the remaining items in the store worth about 7.5 million som ($1300). Now I have to close my shop."
"Me and my two children were left without a livelihood. My children cried and asked why it happened. They kept asking, when there were so many people who traded without any permits, why would they go against me? My only fault is that I refused to pay the contribution for cotton."