When Sarsenbay Koishybayev, a retiree in Almaty, Kazakhstan, went to his local supermarket recently, he did not find his favorite sour cream on the shelves. The brand comes from Kyrgyzstan and is one of the cheapest available.
“The shop assistants said that they recently stopped delivering dairy products from Kyrgyzstan, now they’re selling off the last remaining cheese. Nobody knows if the deliveries will resume,” Koishybayev told EurasiaNet.org.
The scene is the same at shops across Kazakhstan these days. Milk, kefir, cottage cheese and other dairy products from Kyrgyzstan are proving hard to find. The source of the shortages is widely believed to be a diplomatic row over what Kazakhstan is claiming is a multibillion-dollar smuggling racket abetted by its poorer neighbor.
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Almaz Kumenov is a journalist based in Almaty, Kazakhstan.