Musical Chairs

The sound of falling axes has been heard once again at Cabinet office in Ashgabat. Yesterday, Niyazov dismissed Oil and Gas Minister Guychnazar Tachnazarov during a Cabinet meeting for his “grave shortcomings”. In what is now becoming a customary routine, Tachnazarov is also to be charged with appropriating state property. As Niyazov told him on live television: “You used your post for your own interests. What is more, you were unable to discharge your obligations as a state minister and a deputy chairman of the Cabinet of Ministers, which resulted in grave shortcomings. I have warned you about this several…

Changes?

Prior to the celebrations of Turkmenistan’s 14th year of independence the 16th session of the Khalk Maslahaty was convened (please see ‘Nothing is forever, nobody is forever post 25/10/05). During the session a new law was passed which signalled some changes to the political organisation of the country. Most significantly, the president has changed the law so local officials will now be elected by the population rather than be appointed by himself. There will be new 40-member ‘People’s Councils’ in every etrap (district) in Turkmenistan. The entire population of the etrap will elect the members to these Councils. The 40…

Sorry Is The Hardest Word

The Ukrainians have gone visiting, so it was only natural the Russians would follow suit. Niyazov’s latest visitors, also in town to mark the Independence celebrations, were the Russian presidential energy envoy Igor Yusufov and Gazprom deputy CEO Alexander Ryazanov. In what was a clear dig at the Ukrainian drama, Ryazanov remarked that cooperation between the countries was “developing normally, and there are no disputes or unresolved issues.” The one reference to the background of problems was a reassurance that there have been no technical hindrances to the conveyance of gas to Ukraine. Meanwhile, in Ukraine the leader of the…

It’s My Gas And I’ll Cry If I Want To

Earlier this month, Naftohaz Ukrayiny CEO Oleksiy Ivchenko visited Ashgabat to negotiate the future of gas supplies from Turkmenistan to Ukraine. In a now-notorious televised encounter President Niyazov harangued Ivchenko over Ukraine’s alleged failure to meet the conditions of the original agreement, having failed to supply around $480 million worth of equipment. Initially, Ukrainian Fuel and Energy Minister Ivan Plachkov admitted to the shortcoming, only for that to be later refuted by Ivchenko. The story in full is here. Ivchenko’s remarks were further worsened by his allegation that his reply to Niyazov’s rant had been edited out of the final…

Happy Independence

And so the day has finally arrived. As this post went to press, the plans were for a military parade in Ashgabat’s main square (Independence Square, fittingly), followed by some kind of theatrical performance and a festive demonstration, featuring delegations from all five regions of the country. The parade is to be headed by Turkmenbashi in person. Further to the festivities a special range of coins was issued to mark the occasion, though they are unlikely to appear at the bazaars as the country is pretty much a bank note economy. As mentioned in the previous posts, Zhirinovsky is heading…

With Friends Like These

It must be nice when a foreign politician deigns to visit your much-maligned country to tell how well it is doing, how well its people are living, and what a good job is being done all round. Perhaps less so when that politician happens to be the professional troublemaker and extreme right-winger Vladimir Zhirinovsky, leader of the radical Russian Liberal Democratic Party (a fuller comment from him in Russian here). The only thing that has saved Zhirinovsky from being ignored all together back in his own country is the fact that he has acquired something of a clown status, and…

More Hot Air?

And so the saga of the Turkmen-Ukraine gas deal continues to plod on. This time round Ukraine’s Prime Minister Yuriy Yekhanurov is visiting Ashgabat in a bid to iron out the latest hitch. For those who haven’t been paying attention, Ukraine had signed an agreement with Turkmenistan to purchase 50-60 billion cubic metres of natural gas at the rate of $58 per 1,000 cubic metres, half being paid in foreign currency and half in equipment and commodities. The priced had been upped from an earlier $44, but the Ukrainians relented in January this year as they faced the prospect of…

“Nothing is forever, nobody is forever”

Yesterday saw the opening of the 16th session of the Khalk Maslahaty (People’s Council), the highest representative and legislative body of Turkmenistan. However, it was not all plain sailing. During one debate all members of the Council, bar one, rejected a proposal that had been put forward by the President. Alas, if you were expecting a surprise show of steel from the members of the Council, think again. The president was proposing to hold new presidential elections in 2009, however the Council, realising that this was not consistent with their decision to appoint Turkmenbashi president for life in 1999, voted…

The houses that Turkmenbashi built…

In conjunction with the celebration of the 14th anniversary since independence the Government has held inauguration ceremonies for two new facilities in Ashgabat. Two new white marble houses have been built at either end of the city. One is a four-storey building and the other has 12 stories. The buildings are exclusively landscaped, have car parking spaces and feature childrens playgrounds. Keys to the new flats were presented to officers of the National Security and Justice Ministries as well as High Court of Turkmenistan. Officers of these bodies enjoy a reduced discount rate reaching 70% when they buy flats. According…

Mahribanlarym

Mahribanlarym, the new book written by president Niyazov, was released to the public last week. Its title translates as ‘dear people’. According to a press release posted at turkmenistan.ru, the main idea of the book is about “the succession of generations and never-ending connection of times “. It features a collection of poetry and prose. This is apparently the president’s fifth book and I am sure it will be as successful as his last, the two volume Ruhnama. The Ruhnama, since its publication, has been introduced into the curricula of schools and universities. Full access to the article can be…

Show me the money…

According to RIA Novosti Turkmenistan are demanding that Ukraine pay its natural gas debt by the end of the year. The demand came during a meeting between the Ukrainian Fuel and Energy Minister, the Board Chairman of the Ukrainian national oil and gas company and President Niyazov. The Ukraine government had agreed to pay $484 million worth of goods, but so far it has paid only $8.7 million. Although this could all be considered just posturing and negotiation through the media. The full article is here. Thanks to Oliver for this…

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