The authorities in Nukus, in the autonomous Karakalpakstan Republic, have been handing out freshly-hatched chicks due to a lack of money in the country's banks, US-backed Radio Ozodlik reports. One teacher describes the decision as "shameful", telling the radio: "Last year they paid us with potatoes, carrots and pumpkins. This year they are forcing us to take newborn chickens instead of our wages. If we need chickens we can buy them from a market at a much cheaper rate."
Another source says the chicks were deemed to be worth 7,000 soms ($2.50; £1.70) each for salary purposes, more than double the going rate at local markets. Uzbekistan's government tightly controls the domestic media, and residents who speak to foreign media usually do so on the condition of anonymity.
Uzbekistan has struggled with a cash shortages for years, causing severe delays in salaries and pension payments. Earlier this month, state employees in the capital, Tashkent, complained that they had not been paid for two months because the banks had no money.
Uzbeks commenting on Radio Ozodlik's story are mostly unimpressed. One person thinks it's a sign of "shameless and corrupt officials", although another argues the situation is different elsewhere in the country. And one person jokes: "What's wrong with this? You have chicken soup for breakfast, a fried chicken for lunch and a chicken for dinner - lots of vitamins at least."
- via The BBC