What public “anti-corruption” dismissals are really about in Turkmenistan

I guess each country has its own rules and habits of fighting corruption. Here is the Turkmen style, keeping in mind that our country has some of the most widespread corruption in the world. In a practice dating back to Niyazov’s day, ministers are regularly sacked. But the current regime seems to like sacking ministers and workers despite successes. The heads of transporation infrastructure were dismissed for “failing to fulfill their duties” even though the first phase of a new rail has been started. Meanwhile, the grain return for 2013 is being praised for meeting targets — and voila, some…

How many people in Turkmenistan are technically “stateless”?

NewEurasia received this communiqué, which makes us wonder how many people in Turkmenistan, who were members of other Soviet republics when the Union collapsed and got trapped inside the new Turkmen state, are officially registered with the government as “stateless”? (The photograph of the passport has been anonymized to protect the identity of its owner.) I am so upset, actually angry. How much do you know about the temporary passports of Turkmenistan non-citizens? A friend of mineis struggling to get out of country and she finally got a (useless) certificate, after so many years of writing to the President and…

Another letter to Western investors interested in Turkmenistan

Hello again Western investor, Perhaps my last letter was too harsh. Turkmenistan does need your money; all of our sectors are so poor — natural gas, textile, fishing, agriculture, water. Still, I have one request when you come here to invest: hire local Turkmen talent, and I don’t just mean as grunts. Don’t import your people for the best jobs; use ours. But maybe I ask for the impossible, not from you, but from us. A foreign employer means only one thing for many of us: not “money”, not “future”, not “adventure” or “opportunity”, but risk, and if there is…

A letter to Western investors interested in Turkmenistan

Dear Western investor, You might have a Turkish colleague who is trying to convince you to invest in Turkmenistan, but should you believe him? The picture looks nice. Turkish firms ran 63 projects in 2011 worth ~3.27 billion USD, and in 2010, ~4.5 billion USD. Such numbers at the height of the Great Recession are really amazing. And your Turkish colleague is probably hungry for more: the total business volume of Turkish construction firms in Turkmenistan is over 30 billion USD since 1991, and there are, right now, 1,500 Turkish-run construction projects in Turkmenistan worth 32 billion USD. But look…

Marble and sand

I want to share with you impressions of the many contrasts in Turkmenistan by citizen-journalists I know. Except for two from Flickr (but I’m reassured are under Creative Commons licensing), I publish these photos with explicit permission from their owners, who must stay anonymous. Photo #1:Ashgabat is forever under construction, and everything is glistening marble. Always new government ministries everywhere, and elite apartments for the government coterie that cost cost around 100,000-200,000 USD (!). There are some rumors these days that even the pedestrian walkways in the main quarters shall be re-paved with marble. This is all to impression of…

Turkmenistan’s benzene-based social contract gets “renegotiated” by authorities

Underneath Turkmenistan is abundant natural wealth, with more being discovered all the time. So, our government applies useful rules for the Turkmen people. Natural gas, electricity, and even some amount of petrol — in 2011, we were the fourth cheapest in the world, at 12 pence per liter (click images to see more information) — are free for us, which is really something amazing. For example, at present, every person is entitled to 720 liters of free benzene per month. However, the process is that you must prepare the documents of your car and submit to the proper authority; afterward,…

This just in from the Village Women’s Newswire: US Dollar shall collapse!

The rumor mill that Turkmenistanis depend upon for information, but which they also insightfully nickname the “Village Women’s Newswire” appears, to be going digital. NewEurasia’s Magtymguly Pyragy reports on a recent online scare, and provides translations of the speculations of Turkmenitzens trying to grapple with a terrifying — but at the moment unfounded — monetary apocalypse.

Turkmenet’s first e-witness to Abadan explosion speaks again

First e-witness spoke again. Cannot confirm his statements but he was cited by Annasoltan. He has spoken again today: “I escaped death at the last moment, running away and making an accident with my car, but the car is nothing. [The bomb] fell 15,20 meters close to me. I was almost dead, all the people were covered in blood, they didn’t escape, they all died, there were no survivors to come out from there.” When asked where the bombs and rockets fell, he answered: “They fell everywhere.”

WikiLeaks: Ahmet Çalik says Turkmen president tool of Russians

An American diplomatic cable released by WikiLeaks reveals that in 2007, Turkish businessman Ahmet Çalık believed that, vis-à-vis, Turkmenistan was “on the surface” the most independent of the post-Soviet Central Asian republics, “but not behind the scenes” — to the point that he insinuates Berdimuhamedov was put in power by Moscow. neweurasia’s Magtymguly reports. “This cable like scripture for me,” he writes.

Presidential behaviors, dictatorial or democratic

Brief remark: on 14 March Berdimuhamedov paid “surprise” visit to Turkmen shepherd’s home in the desert. Visit shown on state television (click link to see screen captures from Azatlyk Radiosy). Azatlyk story focuses on assumption that visit was not impromptu. Example: the carpets are not typical of shepherd, who could not afford them. But I think focus can be put on something else. In my opinion, the state media want to spread idea that the President is wanting to see situation on the ground with his own eyes. Example: Berdimuhammedow visited school in small town of Üçajy in Mary province…

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