Books on Turkmenistan
Annexed by Russia between 1865 and 1885, Turkmenistan became a Soviet
republic in 1925. It achieved its independence upon the dissolution of the
USSR in 1991. President NIYAZOV retains absolute control over the country
and opposition is not tolerated. Extensive hydrocarbon/natural gas
reserves could prove a boon to this underdeveloped country if extraction
and delivery projects can be worked out.
Update No: 283 - (26/07/04)
Niyazov isolates the Turkmen
The batty dictator of Turkmenistan is showing further distinct signs of having gone completely off his head. On 11 July Turkmenistan halted broadcasts of Russia's Mayak radio station - the last Russian news outlet to reach the Central Asian country. For all practical purposes, Turkmenistan's President Saparmurat Niyazov has now cut off his citizens from the outside world.
At issue are not only the estimated 300,000 ethnic Russians living in Turkmenistan - many of whom listened to Mayak - but the fact that most of the country's 5 million citizens are now cut off from all outside sources of information, with the exception of a minority who own satellite dishes or shortwave radio sets. In 1998, the Turkmen authorities pulled the plug on Russian television broadcasts provided by ORT television, and in 2002, all foreign newspaper and magazine subscriptions were halted. Mayak provided Turkmen with their last source of easily accessible outside news.
Officially, Ashgabat says the Mayak shutdown was prompted by technical reasons, but Russia seems unconvinced and has demanded an official explanation. Radio Mayak's call signal is intimately familiar to anyone who remembers the former Soviet Union. The radio began its 24-hour-a-day broadcasts of news and music in 1964 to all corners of the USSR and remains a staple of many households across the region to this day. The Soviet Union may have crumbled, but Radio Mayak - the "beacon" from Moscow - retains its listenership. Although there are no precise ratings in Turkmenistan, Radio Mayak was believed to be the country's most-popular station until Ashgabat cut off its signal without warning.
Official radio channels are filled with government-sponsored bulletins of good news about a record grain harvest, bulging state coffers, and President Niyazov's latest project - building an ice palace in the desert outside the capital, Ashgabat.
Desert ruler orders ice palace
President Niyazov has ordered construction of an ice palace in his desert nation. "Let's build a palace made of ice so that our children can ice skate," Niyazov is said to have told a Cabinet meeting broadcast on state-run television.
The ice palace would be built five km from the capital Ashgabat and would be reached by cable car. It would be the latest of the autocratic leader's pet projects, which also include huge sports complexes, parks and mosques.
Niyazov gave the government 10 months to build the palace, which would be able to accommodate 1,000 people at a time. The cost of the project has not been disclosed. Desert covers most of Turkmenistan's territory and summer temperatures reach 50 degrees Celsius.
Niyazov, who has led Turkmenistan since 1985, has established a vast cult of personality around himself and is fond of elaborate projects, dotted around the capital and the country.
The second volume of revelation
Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov announced on national television in early July that he has written a second volume of the "book of spirit," or Rukhnama, which is expected to be published in September.
In 1998, Niyazov proposed the idea of developing a programme for the spiritual development of the nation. The "book of spirit," or Rukhnama, has become "a code of conduct" for Turkmen society.
Niyazov argued that the main idea of the book is to provide spiritual guidance to the people, to restore the old customs and traditions and to revive the national spirit. Rukhnama is the way along which the current and future generations of the Turkmen people will advance, he said.
The book's first volume, published in 2001, has been translated into Russian, English, French, Japanese, Urdu, Arabic, Ukrainian and other languages, including Zulu. Its print exceeds a million copies.
The month of September has been named after Rukhnama and Saturday is now called Rukhgyun (spiritual day) in Turkmenistan
Grain growers hit record harvest
Recently, Turkmen mass media published a congratulatory message from President of State, Saparmurat Niyazov, to grain growers of Serdarabat district of Lebap region who were the first in the republic to meet a target on selling grain to the state.
Landowners and farmers harvested over 71,500 tonnes of grain. An average yield was 34 quintals from one hectares. Turkmenistan has harvested over 1m tonnes out of projected 2.8m tonnes of grain so far.
At the same time, there are some landowners who have harvested around 100 quintals and over from a hectare, according to information by the country's Grain Association Turkmengallaonumleri, Turkmenistan News Agency reported.
In fact, Sultanmurat Rustamov, a farmer from the farmer union named after the head of state, hit a record harvest.
He harvested 26.9 tonnes of wheat from two hectares or 134.5 quintals from a hectare. Serdar Bazarov from the farmer union named after Khakimov, Durdykhal Jorayev from "Parakhat" farmer union and Rozykhal Kandymova from the farmer union named after Niyazov each harvested 102 quintals from a hectare.
Turkmen gas production up
Natural gas production in Turkmenistan increased 3.9% year-on-year to 32bn cubic metres in the first half of 2004, while oil production remained unchanged at 4.7m tonnes, a source in the Turkmen Oil, Gas and Mineral Resource Ministry said recently, Interfax News Agency reported.
Of total gas produced, 23.3bn cubic metres was exported, up 5.0% year-on-year. The main importers of Turkmen gas were Ukraine, Iran and Russia. Turkmenneftegaz refineries amounted to 3.4m tonnes of oil in January-June, which was 6.3% more than in the same period last year. Production of liquefied hydrocarbon gases increased 50% to 165,500 tonnes, with polypropylene production was up 26% to 40,600 tonnes. This product is mainly exported. Planned throughput at Turkmenneftegaz refineries amounts to 8.2m tonnes in 2004.
FOREIGN ECONOMIC COOPERATION
Niyazov meets Ahtisaari
A meeting between Saparmurat Niyazov, the president of Turkmenistan and Martti Ahtisaari, visiting Turkmenistan Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) chairman-in-office's special envoy for Central Asia and former Finnish president, took place in the coastal town of Turkmenbashi on June 14th, according to the presidential press service. During the course of the meeting both sides discussed issues of mutual interest related, first of all, to the current state and prospects of deepening partnership between Turkmenistan and the OSCE, New Europe reported recently.
Niyazov briefed the OSCE envoy on basic principles that make up the entire system of Turkmen society's fundamental values and priorities of state policy in the field of ensuring constitutional rights and liberties of citizens.
Turkmenistan-Iran ties stand firm, turnover to increase
Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov recently received Ambassador of Iran Seyyed Ebrahim Derazgisuk, who completed his mission to the country, the press service of the Turkmen leader announced on July 6th.
During the meeting the sides emphasised the high level of interstate cooperation that has been achieved over the last years. In their opinion, Turkmen-Iranian relations are the exemplar of close and constructive partnership.
This is best proved by dozens of joint projects that have been implemented or are being implemented for the benefit and progress of not only Turkmen and Iranian peoples but also the entire region.
Transport corridors connect the two neighbouring countries that regard the border between them as the border of friendship. Modern high speed railways connect both states, and a power transmission line stretching for many kilometres has been built.
During the meeting, Derazgisu expressed satisfaction with the fact that many of these successes had been achieved at the time of his diplomatic mission to Ashgabat as ambassador of Iran. "All the projects implemented over the recent time fully reflect the high potential of mutually beneficial cooperation that has great prospects," the Iranian ambassador noted, Ashgabat News Agency reported.
In fact, trade turnover between the two countries increased from €160m in 2000 to €600m in 2003. In the Iranian ambassador's opinion, this amount will soon exceed the US$1bn level.
The president of Turkmenistan praised the work of the diplomat who made a significant contribution to strengthening of Turkmen-Iranian ties of friendship and good neighbourly relations between the two peoples.
Niyazov also invited his guest to participate in the inauguration of the Dostluk water dam, being built on the border between the two states, in token of the ambassador's merits in the realisation of this grandiose joint project.
At the end of the meeting the head of Turkmenistan wished the diplomat further successes in his diplomatic career.
In turn, Derazgisu expressed his thanks to the Turkmen leader for his support and help and to which his mission, aimed at strengthening and expansion of bilateral relations, was successful.
"Turkmen and Iranian people are closely connected by common culture and historical traditions, and I could see one more time how much Turkmens honour the glorious memory of their ancestors and still observe centuries old customs," Derazgisu said.
Siemens, Huawei in Turkmenistan
Turkmenistan's Telecoms Ministry has signed contracts with Siemens and Huawei Technologies to buy telecoms equipment. President of Turkmenistan, Saparmurad Niyazov, signed the significant resolution on June 4th, a Telecoms Ministry source said, Interfax News Agency reported.
Siemens AG is to provide equipment for GSM standard mobile phone systems with a capacity for 50,000 numbers at a cost of €8.5m and the contract will be financed by State Transport and Telecoms Fund. Huawei Technologies signed a contract worth 40m yen (about €4.8m), which will be financed by a grant and interest-free loan from China in accordance with a bilateral agreement on developing the telecoms industry, signed in December 2002.
Naftohaz Ukrayiny in road contract
The Naftohaz Ukrayiny national joint-stock company will supply Turkmenistan with road construction machinery for a total of US$10m. President Saparmurat Niyazov issued a resolution to this effect recently, Ashgabat News Agency reported.
The document authorises the Ministry of Motor Transport and Roads of Turkmenistan to sign a contract with the Naftohaz Ukrayiny national joint-stock company on the supply of road construction machinery to be used at the construction of a highway linking Ashgabat to the capital of the northern region of Turkmenistan,
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