23 january 2019
Central Asia news: Turkmenistan
14.12.2012 09:50 msk Turkmenistan
Turkmen students have everything that adults have, i.e. they unquestioningly obey their leadership, they cannot express their opinion if they differ from those of their leaders, be it a teacher, dean, vice chancellor or the chancellor himself. In a word, if they are told “it must be” then it must be. The chancellor himself (just like the president) admonishes them for smallest wrongdoings and marks the wrongdoing in the individual’s case file. Two such digressions lead to expulsion from university. The faults vary: using a mobile phone during a lecture, being late for class or returning to residence halls after 8 PM. Curfews are imposed in all the universities, with no exception, and on 5 December, when the meeting of the CIS heads of state was taking place in Ashkhabad, the halls’ doors were shut at 6 PM. Just in case something happened to the important guests… students who were late, as you might guess, got a strict telling off.
05.09.2012 14:21 msk Turkmenistan
The Park of Independence is undergoing reconstruction in Ashkhabad (Turkemistan). Fountains, paths, and young trees planted to replace of the previous old ones, all look beautiful only in their first year. Gradually, but relentlessly, time takes its destructive toll and the ostentatious luxury of the facades, does not hide the physical and social decay of the town. Finishings fall off, weeds growth through cracks in the tiles, rats and night visitors become the town’s guardians, leaving behind them vile piles of rubbish. Social activist and Ashkhabad resident Natalia Shabuntz told Fergana’s editorial team about how her disintegrating town.
Industrial action is extremely rare in Turkmenistan, because of the fear of retribution in this police state. But several localised strikes and protests in recent months suggest the government is prepared to make concessions on pay in order to keep the peace. In the latest dispute, the human rights website Chronicles of Turkmenistan reported that workers building a major road bridge over the river Amu Darya in eastern Turkmenistan staged a strike in mid-August because they had not been paid for three months. The report said managers tried a mixture of threats and persuasion to try to get the builders back to work. The strike continued, however, and by the end of a week they were paid their back wages in full. Another protest over pay took place in April, when local employees of a Turkish construction company involved in building a five-star hotel at the Avaza resort, a flagship development on the Caspian coast.
The Turkmen government has made major cuts to the subsidies it has traditionally provided its population. In July, it removed a subsidy system for flour which had been in place for the last 15 years. Each household used to get coupons which they could exchange for flour at a special low price.
The Soviet-era practice of holding show trials for individuals accused of relatively minor economic crimes is alive and well in Turkmenistan, and local observers say that once in the system, defendants have no chance of a fair hearing. For the state, it is a demonstration of power, and for the security agencies, an opportunity to show they are fighting crime. The latest took place in the northern town of Dashoguz, and involved nine workers at a printing house, including the deputy director, who were convicted and imprisoned for stealing paper and using it to do private print jobs.
13.05.2012 00:44 msk Turkmenistan
Stray dogs in Turkmenistan get poisoned with pieces of sausage stuffed with deadly substances or broken glass scattered around junk yards. Poisoned dogs convulse in agony for hours, barking and howling in a high-pitched voice, saliva and blood dripping from mouth. If you have a dog in Ashgabat, the country capital, your pet may find poison placed by exterminators at your doorstep. Turkmen president is believed to be a dog-hater who gets crazy if he catches a sight of a dog in the city streets. A human right activist from Ashgabat, Natalia Shabunts, a woman of unbelievable courage, sent this article about the dogs’ lot in Turkmenistan.
28.05.2010 15:52 msk Turkmenistan
A recently published book about President Berdymukhamedov of Turkmenistan confirms that the cult of personality is alive and well in the republic. After 15 years of independence Maria Yanovskaya could be forgiven for being surprised at the book’s excessively rapturous tone… but she is not.
The second advent of Ruhnama in the socio-cultural area of Turkmenistan makes us think not only about circling politicians, but also what is expected in the country in the future and how the neighbors view such development. New Turkmen national culture policy is the Niyazov-initiated surgery of lively and diverse Turkmen culture of various groups of Turkmen and other ethnicities to some varnished imitation, substituting genuine culture. Those, who are not aware of Turkmen realities, need to understand the following: titular ethnic group consists of complex tribal structure. The scientist still cannot explain the emergence of many groups. Each group – clan or tribe – has many unique independent features.
His harrying experience in Turkmenistan over, Russian environmentalist Andrei Zatoka is back in Moscow. A trial in Dashoguz the other day had sentenced him to five years imprisonment. The verdict sparked an international campaign in the environmentalist's defense. Human rights activists, environmentalists, and finally the Russian authorities raised their voice. Another hasty trial voided the previous verdict and sentenced Zatoka to a fine. Following that, this citizen of Russia was essentially expelled from Turkmenistan. Here is the first interview with Zatoka and his wife Yevgenia on their return to Moscow.
Natalia Anurova-Shabunts, a citizen of both Turkmenistan and Russia, wrote an article for Ferghana.Ru that gives an account of life in Turkmenistan. How its citizens are denied permission to travel abroad, how students and instructors are compelled to wear uniforms, how state officials bully people into renouncing Russian double citizenship. And how officials of the Russian Embassy in Ashkhabad arrogantly refuse to take care of citizens of the Russian Federation. Living in Turkmenistan, the author refuses to adopt a nom-de-plume and speaks up on behalf of the "happy Turkmen people" under her own name which is what makes the situation unique.
10.08.2009 21:55 msk Turkmenistan
Today, it is still hard for journalist or independent researcher to visit Turkmenistan. However, Elena Larina and Olga Naumov, two delicate women, Moscow-based ethnologists and PhD in History, were lucky. Last autumn they experienced extreme travel to Turkmenistan – they managed to live in remote and arduous regions of the country, Kara Ku, hosted by "sand Turkmen" and mountainous villages of "nohur". They shared the experience and unique pictures with Ferghana.Ru.
Russia and Turkmenistan will revise gas agreements and speed up construction of the Caspian Gas Pipeline in accordance with the decision of presidents Dmitry Medvedev and Gurbankuly Berdymuhammedov. Contrary to the expectations pinned on Berdymuhammedov's state visit, visa regime for the Russians intent on visiting Turkmenistan was never abolished. Neither was the subject of the Russians in Turkmenistan dwelt on despite human rights community's demands.
22.01.2009 17:44 msk Turkmenistan
President Gurbankuly Berdymuhammedov congratulated the State Drug Enforcement Service on its first anniversary on January 18. "The work you've done provided peace in the country and serenity of the population. It reinforced unity and solidarity, it strengthened foundations of healthy society," his message stated. Drugs are openly sold in Turkmen cities and villages. Their ready availability is recognized as a threat to the gene pool. Hence establishment of the State Drug Enforcement Service a year ago, a structure coordinating efforts of the national systems of health care and education, general public, local authorities, law enforcement agencies, and the army to eradicate this evil.
Turkmen police officials say they neutralized a drug gang on Saturday, however, local analysts suspect much stronger forces were involved in skirmishes with security services. Criminal gang involved in drug trafficking was neutralized in capital Ashgabat on September 13, official news agency of Turkmenistan said. It did not specify whether the members of the group were killed or detained. Earlier reports by the oppositional Gundogar agency said that a fighting broke out between religious militant group and police in the district of Ashgabat known as Khitrovka, killing 20 policemen.
President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov’s administration has been building the image of a liberalizing state after the death of his totalitarian predecessor for two years. The forthcoming new Constitution, already proclaimed as a stronghold of the Turkmen renaissance, promises to eliminate redundant elements in the state apparatus, but does not promote a full-fledged democracy, analysts say.