Books on Turkmenistan
Update No: 308 - (29/08/06)
President Saparmurat Niyazov of Turkmenistan is a buffoon and
a fool; it is becoming obvious that he is also insane. Absolute power has a
tendency to eventually unhinge the mind - one just has to think of Stalin,
Hitler and Mao.
He is operating in a much smaller sphere fortunately. But his poor people suffer
the price. There is a cult of his personality every bit as gargantuan as of the
Rukhnama in Space
He has written a tome that he is convinced is the repository of human wisdom,
eclipsing the Bible or the Koran or the Vedas. Turkmen schoolchildren no longer
waste too much of their time reading up on mathematics and the sciences, history
and geography; they mainly study the Rukhnama.
He is concerned that it should be known across the solar system, indeed the
universe no less.
After sending its flag and an image of the presidential standard, a five-headed
eagle, Turkmenistan has dispatched more national paraphernalia into space. This
time it will be a copy of the first part of the Rukhnama, the sacred text penned
by President Niyazov.
The book is part of the payload on the Russian-owned Dnepr rocket, which was
launched from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The main aim of the launch,
in what was one of two rockets sent into space, was related to a Japanese
scientific project. The shuttle is set to return to earth in no less than 150
The ice palace cometh
Back home he has ordered the construction of a "Die Another Day" style
palace made of ice in the heart of his desert country, one of the hottest on
It is the latest in a series of colossal building projects instigated by the
all-powerful president that seem to defy the country's environment, or any
conceivable logic. Among them are over twenty international hotels in the
capital, Ashgabat, for foreign businessmen, who have too much sense to flock to
the domain of a madman to do business.
"Let us build a palace of ice," said President Niyazov, "big and
grand enough for 1,000 people." The palace will stand in the mountains just
outside the capital. President Niyazov made the announcement in a speech
broadcast on Turkmen television, which in effect made it a presidential order.
The idea is to build the palace in the Copa Deg Mountains outside Ashgabat, now
baking in the summer heat, with a long cable-car running up from the city.
"Our children can learn to ski," Mr Niyazov enthused, "we can
build cafes there, and restaurants."
President Niyazov's extravagant buildings are a hallmark of his idiosyncratic
regime. He is currently building one of the biggest mosques in the world, and
has a chain of conventional palaces.
But the latest have a special quality - of challenging Turkmenistan's desert
As well as the ice palace, there is to be a vast aquarium. The projects tend now
to be sites of recreation for the people, like a Disney-style theme park instead
of state palaces. That is in keeping with Mr Niyazov's image as a servant of his
people, who lays on every sort of amenity for them.
Ice palaces were popular in the Soviet Union, to which Turkmenistan once
belonged, but they were built in the freezing cities of the north, far away.
The Turkmen mountains are relatively high, but it is hard to imagine the palace
remaining frozen without some sort of technical help.
Tightening the Belt
These projects have to be paid for of course. The only way is by selling gas
and cotton abroad. Clearly domestic consumption has a lower priority. Hence the
only two commodities Turkmenistan has in abundance are becoming in scarce supply
for the locals.
According to a Deutsche Welle report, Turkmen authorities have followed up their
drastic pensions reductions by cutting off gas supply to rural residential
settlements. The action was carried out immediately after President Saparmurat
Niyazov's visit to Moscow to clinch a gas delivery deal to Russia, while
attending a CIS summit.
Delivery to domestic gas consumers in the cities has also been affected, which
has led to speculation that the interruption may constitute part of a broader
project to economise on fuel reserves. Deutsche Welle reports that this
information is based on the testimony of inhabitants of a number of variously
located areas across the country, with the exception of Ashgabat.
Furthermore, sources close to the president revealed that Niyazov had ordered
measures geared towards saving on internal fuel consumption across the board
before departing for Russia. One has to pay to live in paradise and be ruled by
a universal genius, the wisest ruler of the ages. It is a tough business.
Record year of wheat harvested
At a recent cabinet meeting, Turkmen President Sapamurat Niyazov discussed the
results of a grain harvest campaign that will end soon. Noting unprecedented
rates of harvesting that made it possible to shorten the harvest campaign, the
head of state praised the farmers for their excellent work, www.turkmenistan.ru
As the president said, Turkmen growers have hit the mark of 50-60 quintals
harvested from one hectare of land. It was noted that grain growers yielded and
transferred to the state over 3.5 million tonnes of grain, up to 400 thousand
tonnes year-on-year, the State News Service (TDH) reported.
Some 910 thousand hectares of land were allotted for winter crops this season.
On July 5th, grain growers of Lebap province were the first to report the
fulfilment of their contractual obligations on the sale of grain to the state.
They harvested over 600 thousand tonnes of wheat. The main reason for the
increasing number of grain growers was a result of the successful implementation
of the presidential programmes "Grain and "New village," which
aimed at the fundamental change of agriculture. The majority of the investment
was in agriculture. The fleet of the agricultural-industrial complex has been
completely upgraded. The country provides benefits to farmers and landlords.
Assessing the pace of the harvest campaign, Niyazov paid particular attention to
mechanisms that increased the harvest and laid the foundation for production
relations in this important sector of the agricultural complex. Considering
safety of the grain, Niyazov demanded that permanent and strict control should
be enforced to maintain the standards of grain processing and that the loss of
grain should not exceed 20 per cent.
Iran signs cooperation deals for tourism, other projects
Turkmenistan and Iran signed a number of documents on cooperation in a number of
areas during Iranian President, Mahmud Ahmadinejad's, visit to Ashgabat.
"Top-level negotiations resulted in the signing of a package of documents
aimed at the further convergence of the two friendly nations," the Turkmen
presidential press service said, Interfax News Agency reported.
The leaders signed a joint communiqué on the development of bilateral
relations, a joint declaration on the completion of the construction of border
terminals at the Gaudan-Bajgiran checkpoint and their commissioning, a
memorandum on cooperation in the power industry sector, and a joint letter to
the president of Afghanistan. They also signed a programme of cooperation in the
tourism sector, a memorandum on cooperation in security and border affairs, an
agreement on cooperation in the area of animal health and the veterinary sphere,
and a protocol on the outcomes of the ninth session of a joint economic
cooperation commission. The agreements are valid until 2009. According to an
agreement on tourism, Turkmenistan's State Committee on Tourism and Sport and
the Organisation of Cultural Heritage and Tourism of the Islamic Republic of
Iran would regularly exchange advertisement materials and information in the
sphere of tourism and on the historical monuments and sights located in the
territory of the two countries and would inform each other on the laws
regulating tourist business and procedures for making joint investments in the
tourist projects, inform about investment priorities in the sphere of tourism,
organise and hold seminars for tourist companies. The sides agreed to help
create conditions for preparation of materials about tourist attractiveness of
Turkmenistan and Iran, films and radio programmes for broadcasting on the
national TV and Radio, publication of books, brochures and booklets. Assistance
will be provided in conducting joint tours, tourist exhibitions, and culture
Both countries would establish cooperation in holding training sessions in
tourism and hotel management, in establishment of links between scientific,
education and research centres specialising in tourism activities. The State
Committee on Tourism and Sport and the Organisation of Cultural Heritage and
Tourism will exchange the lists of tourist companies and hotels. They will
consider the possibility of establishing cooperation, including along the Great
Silk Road route, and continuing exchange of specialists and teachers for
participation in conferences and study courses in the sphere of development of
the tourism industry and preservation of historic monuments.
The communiqué declaring the two countries' desire to develop bilateral
relations said that the parties expressed their intention to improve cooperation
based on principles of mutual benefit and comprehensive respect for each other's
interests. As regards the key international and regional issues, the two
presidents emphasised their mutual desire to strengthen peace and stability and
set a climate of confidence and mutual understanding on a regional and
international scale and that they shared the opinion that international problems
should be resolved only through peaceful diplomatic methods.
"The heads of state attached particular significance to issues related to
the Caspian Sea, pointing out that the Caspian should be a sea of peace,
friendship, stability, and neighbourliness." The Iranian leader invited his
Turkmen counterpart to pay an official visit to Tehran.