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Sunday, April 24, 2005

 

The Independent on Niyazov

From The Independent:

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.

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