Yes, Uzbekistan has lottery fever these days, but it not entirely by choice, it seems.
RFE/RL's Uzbek Service, Radio Ozodlik, has been receiving some irate calls from citizens, and dubious answers from officials, about the "Farovonlik" (Prosperity) lottery going on in Uzbekistan.
In April, Russia's Central Bank reported some $6.6 billion was sent from Russia to Uzbekistan in 2013. Millions of people from Uzbekistan work as migrant laborers in Russia and there are hundreds of thousands working in other countries who are also sending money back home.
There is only one bank in Uzbekistan that handles these remittances: Agrobank.
Uzbek citizens inside Uzbekistan and working in Russia have contacted Ozodlik to complain that when people in Uzbekistan go to pick up the money sent to them from abroad they are required by Agrobank to purchase at least one lottery ticket at a cost of 5,000 soms (a bit more than $2 at the official rate).
Uzbekistan is located in the heart of Central Asia, between two large rivers Amu Darya and Syr Darya. History of nations, living on this territory, is more than thousand years. This land became the motherland of civilization, which is perhaps one of the most ancient in the world. History of Uzbekistan is the history of individuals and great nations, bloody conquests and large rebellions; it is the history of origin of the most beautiful cities in Central Asia; it is the history of people, who wholeheartedly loved their homeland.
People settled on the territory of Uzbekistan centuries ago. They built beautiful cities of Samarkand, Bukhara, Khiva and others, which were ruined by neighboring tribes, but thanks to people’s efforts they again rose from the ashes and became much beautiful. This land was the crossroad of the Great Silk Road, connecting Asia and Europe. Here, in numerous bazaars and workshops craftsmen created fine works of art, which by the Silk Road reached the most remote parts of Europe and Asia. The Uzbekistan land was once part of the ancient Persian Empire and was later conquered by Alexander the Great in the 4th century B.C. During the 8th century, the nomadic Turkic tribes living there were converted to Islam by invading Arab forces who dominated the area.
The Mongols under Ghengis Khan took over the region from the Seljuk Turks in the 13th century, and it later became part of Tamerlane the Great's empire and that of his successors until the 16th century. The Uzbeks invaded the territory in the early 16th century and merged with the other inhabitants in the area. Their empire broke up into separate Uzbek principalities, the khanates of Khiva, Bukhara, and Kokand. These city-states resisted Russian expansion into the area but were conquered by the Russian forces in the mid-19th century.