His golden statue rotates to face the sun. He has renamed January after himself. And under his rule, his country has become as wealthy as Dubai and as paranoid as North Korea. Stephen Castle reports on President Niyazov of Turkmenistan
With almost absolute power over the lives of his subjects, Mr Niyazov has unleashed a series of bizarre and arbitrary policies, closing operas, ballets, circuses, and orchestras. Libraries in rural areas are being shut down, education is being ravaged.
Thanks to his grip on his country's vast oil and gas reserves, President Niyazov has turned Turkmenistan into one of the most closed countries in the world, creating a personality cult to rival that of Kim Jong-Il. Under his rule the former Soviet republic has become an unsettling mixture, with all the showy wealth of a country such as Dubai and the rampant paranoia of North Korea.
Based in London, we are an informal group dedicated to supporting democracy and human rights throughout
the former Soviet Union. Our aims are:
Informing the public about issues in this area that receive little coverage in the Western media.
Staging peaceful demonstrations and letter-writing campaigns in support of specific causes.
Supporting and publicising nonviolent pro-democracy groups throughout the region.
Encouraging European and American involvement.
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