Serdar Berdimuhamedow. Photo is a Tatarstan government handout.

As Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine at the end of February, authorities in Turkmenistan – an autocratic post-Soviet state with the world’s fourth largest gas reserves – avoided any talk of the war and instead urged citizens to vote early in the snap presidential election on 12 March.

As predicted, Serdar Berdimuhamedow – son of long-time president Gurbanguly – garnered the majority of the vote and was sworn into office, ushering in the Central Asian region’s first dynastic succession and only the second such transfer of power in the entire post-Soviet space.

Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow is set to retain his role as chair of the parliament’s upper chamber, the Halk Maslahaty (People’s Council) – a position that will allow him to oversee and directly influence state policy in addition to wielding power behind the scenes.…  Seguir leyendo »

Por Balazs Jarabik, investigador Asociado, FRIDE (FRIDE, ENE/07):

El 21 de diciembre de 2006, el presidente Saparmurat Niyazov de Turkmenistán, falleció repentinamente de un ataque al corazón. Su Gobierno fue uno de los regímenes políticos más cerrados del mundo, dejando así poco espacio para una transformación de gran alcance en el país. Lo más posible es que en las elecciones previstas para febrero de 2007 no haya una competición política real. La muerte de Niyazov puede acrecentar las rivalidades en la comunidad internacional para ganar los favores de uno de los países más importantes en el campo de la futura seguridad energética. Aún está por verse si Turkmenistán conseguirá alejarse de su postura aislacionista como consecuencia de la presión social y abrirse a la dinámica internacional.

Leer artículo completo (PDF).

By Simon Tisdall (THE GUARDIAN, 26/01/07):

His patronymic included, Gurbanguli Myalikgulyevich Berdymukhamedov can probably claim to have the longest name of any national leader. But Mr B is giving short shrift to opposition hopes of a more open, democratic Turkmenistan as the central Asian country plods towards presidential elections on February 11. His almost inevitable victory over token rivals poses a larger problem for the US and Europe, whose interest in promoting "freedom's march" is surpassed only by their appetite for cheap energy.

Turkmenistan has some of the world's biggest natural gas fields, producing the equivalent of 11% of total EU consumption annually.…  Seguir leyendo »

By Nurmuhammet Hanamov, the founding chairman of the Republican Party of Turkmenistan in exile. Before announcing his opposition to President Saparmurad Niyazov's regime and going into exile in 2002, Hanamov served as Turkmenistan's ambassador to Turkey and Israel and chairman of Turkmenistan's State Planning Committee (THE WASHINGTON POST, 03/01/07):

Last week Turkmenistan buried its brutal dictator, Saparmurad Niyazov. His ruthless reign spanned two decades, during which time his policies became increasingly irrational and unpredictable. The long list of Niyazov's crimes against our people includes: banning all political parties except his own and jailing his opponents; preventing thousands of "disloyal" citizens from traveling abroad; persecuting religious and ethnic minorities; outlawing opera; and shutting down regional hospitals, firing thousands of doctors and nurses.…  Seguir leyendo »

By Kenyon S. Weaver, a student at Georgetown University Law Center and president of the non-profit Turkmenistan Youth & Civic Values Foundation (THE WASHINGTON POST, 23/12/06):

Halk, Watan, Turkmenbashi: "People, State, Father of all Turkmen." Around Turkmenistan, where President Saparmurat Niyazov died yesterday, these words adorn nearly every public space. Niyazov called himself "Turkmenbashi" and so did "his" people. Today, there is only the People and the State, and no Turkmenbashi.

During the time he ruled, he built a cult of personality. But many Turkmen citizens secretly nursed hopes of what they would do after he died.

I worked as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Turkmenistan from 2003 to 2005.…  Seguir leyendo »

By Masha Lipman, editor of the Carnegie Moscow Center's Pro et Contra journal, writes a monthly column for The Post (THE WASHINGTON POST, 22/12/06):

Although the official statement yesterday on Turkmenistan's president spoke of his "divine foresight," not even this dictator could foresee his own death or what will happen to his country afterward.

Saparmurad Niyazov, who died unexpectedly yesterday after a heart attack, was a tyrant par excellence. He presided over a closed and repressive regime as uncontested master of the Turkmen people. Those who dared challenge his absolute power were arrested and tortured, then sentenced to long prison terms.…  Seguir leyendo »

By Anadurdy Khajiyev, the brother of imprisoned human rights activist Sapardurdy Khajiyev (THE WASHINGTON POST, 16/12/06):

Over the course of three days this summer, Turkmenistan's interior ministry (formerly the local KGB) arrested three people and charged them with spying: Annakurban Amanklychev of the French TV production company Galaxie-Presse and the French TV station France 2; Ogulsapar Muradova, correspondent for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty; and Sapardurdy Khajiyev, a human rights activist.

Along with some other human rights activists, they were accused by the interior ministry on June 19 of spying for the intelligence services of NATO countries. They were also accused of collaborating with foreign diplomats (Henri Tomassini, a cultural officer at the French Embassy, and Benjamin Moreau, the representative in Turkmenistan of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe) and Western journalists (Lucy Ash of the BBC and Catherine Berthillier of Galaxie-Presse).…  Seguir leyendo »