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Uzbekistan: Russian Cellphone Company Shutdown Sparks Client Exodus

Customers line up outside a Ucell office in Tashkent on July 18. MTS clients mobbed rival mobile providers after the company was forced to suspend operations in Uzbekistan.

Uzbekistan has suspended the operations of Russia’s largest cellphone company amid accusations of legal violations in the use of equipment, prompting an exodus to other operators and sending rumors swirling that vested economic interests are behind the move.

The suspension of all operations of O’zdunrobita, MTS’s Uzbekistan arm, took effect in Uzbekistan from 6pm on July 17 for 10 working days, under a decree from Tashkent’s Communications and IT Agency.

The shutdown left 9.5 million clients -- a third of Uzbekistan’s 29.5-million population -- without MTS mobile communications at least until July 31. 

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Uzbekistan: Russian Cellphone Company Shutdown Sparks Client Exodus

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