Instead of simply increasing the price of the commodity (which is tightly controlled by the government), gas station owners have reacted in an unusual way: claiming shortages of 80 octane petrol, some have started selling it marked as 92 octane or higher, drivers complain. The stations thus boost profits, while leaving drivers fuming. The price of low-octane petrol is around 1,250 sums per liter, while high-octane petrol is being sold for as high as 1,500 sums. (The market exchange rate is about 2,220 sums to the dollar, while the official rate is approximately 1,600 sums per dollar.)
“They [gas station owners] can deceive us drivers, but they cannot deceive our cars,” said a driver commenting on the scheme. He and others complain about the decreased performance from their “high-octane” purchases.
On the street, drivers see a connection to the recent shakeup at Zeromax GmbH – the Swiss-registered conglomerate believed to have links to Uzbek President Islam Karimov’s eldest daughter Gulnara "GooGoosha" Karimova – and a campaign they say is underway against businessmen in the country.
“Everything started when Adil was placed under arrest,” one driver asserted, referring to the sudden demise of Zeromax and its former executive director, Miradil Djalalov. Independent websites reported that Djalalov had fled the country after being briefly detained last March, but some observers believe he is simply lying low.