FILE PHOTO: A woman carrying her son stands in front of a food shelf as she shops at a supermarket in northern Tehran. Reuters

By Kayhan Life Staff

The Tehran-based Mehr News Agency removed an article on the public’s angry reaction to the high cost of living and shortage of food products a few hours after it appeared on its website on May 26. It replaced the article titled “Some State Officials Are Sorry About Revamping the Subsidy Policy” with a story titled “Tehran Deputy Governor: Province Has Sufficient Wheat Reserves.”

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Shortly after Mehr News Agency removed the article, the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) said: “Mehr News Agency was a victim of a cyberattack at noon today, resulting in a piece of fake and ridiculous news appearing on its website. The piece was identified and removed quickly. The fake news reported long lines at the country’s bakeries. It used offensive and hostile language to question the country’s economic policy.”

The following are excerpts of the article that appeared on Mehr News Agency’s website on May 26 but was removed after a few hours:

“Some State Officials Are Sorry About Revamping the Subsidy Policy.

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Hasty measures and the lack of a long-term plan have caused severe disruption in the pilot project for bread distribution and cash subsidy scheme. Even security and police forces have expressed their dissatisfaction.

According to a source familiar with the situation, the pilot project for selling traditional Iranian bread has been a non-starter at many bakeries, because bakers were not ready for the program, and the technology needed to start production was unavailable to them. Also, many people eligible to receive cash subsidies said the money never arrived in their bank accounts.

Many people queued at bakeries in different parts [of Iran’s cities], but went home empty-handed because of a shortage of wheat flour, causing others to rush [to buy bread]. Lack of planning and illogical distribution of wheat flour to various cities, including south Tehran and Isfahan, exacerbated the situation. The shortage of flour and bread will continue in the coming days.

According to the same informed source, several senior officials view the revamping of the subsidy scheme as a mistake and have called for returning to the original program. However, senior officials and others oppose reverting to the old scheme.

People who have been struggling with water shortage and air pollution have suffered another economic blow. Despite promises by the state and the government of [President Ebrahim] Raisi, the foreign exchange rate continued to rise, causing the price of goods to go up in recent months, which led to changes in the subsidy scheme.

The country’s officials have long forgotten that they are from the people and must serve the public. That is why the state is getting closer every day to the edge of the precipice. Its self-importance has had the opposite effect inside the country and abroad.

Besides reports on widespread corruption among people close to the leadership, there have also been several stories about members of the security and the police force, who are struggling to make ends meet, having to confront family members protesting against the high cost of living in the streets of their neighborhoods.

Those running the country for 30 some odd years must now hand the leadership over to others.”

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