Kyrgyzstan uncovers alcohol pipeline
Border guards in Kyrgyzstan have discovered an underwater pipeline used for a major alcohol smuggling operation from neighbouring Kazakhstan.
According to Kyrgyz news agency AKIpress, the 500m long, 20cm wide pipe was stretched along the bottom of the Chu river, which forms a border between the two countries.
As one of the biggest grain producers in Central Asia, Kazakhstan represents an attractive source of cheap spirits.
Despite around 70% of its population being Muslim, the country’s annual per capita alcohol consumption in 2011 was calculated by the World Health Organisation at nearly 11 litres, compared to just over 5 litres in Kyrgyzstan.
Officials believe that thousands of litres of alcohol, mostly vodka, have been smuggled across the border via this pipeline in the last few months. The discovery mirrors that of fuel pipelines running from oil-rich Kazakhstan to its neighbours.