KERMIT COMES TO ASHGABAT! (PLUS SOME MAJOR CULTURAL LANDMARKS GET FLATTENED, BUT WHAT THE HELL, KERMIT COMES TO ASHGABAT I TELLS YA!)
Today, President of Turkmenistan, Saparmurat Turkmenbashi the Great* held a session of the Cabinet of Ministers of Turkmenistan. Officials of numerous ministries and agencies of Turkmenistan, as well as mass media were invited to the meeting.(*Not to be confused with Saparmurat Turkmenbashi the Pretty Average Frankly, who runs a mini-cab service in downtown Krasnovodsk).
Saparmurat Turkmenbashi the Great said that the building of the Opera and Ballet Theater should be quickly demolished and a new Trade Center should be constructed near the bazaar. The President instructed to plant trees on the territory of the former Pushkin Theater and the new premises of the theater should be repaired if necessary. A monument to Pushkin should be erected in front of the new building of the Pushkin Theater at the Silk-winding Factory. The Theater of a Young Spectator should be built on the eastern side of the National Museum. A Muppet Theater is expected to be built on the territory of Disneyland.
Doesn't do weddings or bar mitzvahs...
From BBC News.
Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov has banned the playing of recorded music at all public events, on television and at weddings...This issue close to Turkmenbashi's heart. In 1988, he headed that great triumph for global justice, the United Nations Special Investigation into Milli Vanilli.
Mr Niyazov's decree was published in the official daily newspaper Neitralny Turkmenistan (Neutral Turkmenistan).
It banned sound recordings "at musical performances on state holidays, in broadcasts by Turkmen television channels, at all cultural events organised by state... in places of mass assembly and at weddings and celebrations organised by the public".
The president was quoted by the newspaper as saying the move aimed to "protect true culture, including the musical and singing traditions of the Turkmen people".
And in comments broadcast on state television, Mr Niyazov told his cabinet:
"Unfortunately, one can see on television old voiceless singers lip-synching their old songs.
"Don't kill talents by using lip-synching... create our new culture."
On the road with the Turkmenbashi
Forget Jack Kerouac, once again the Rukhnama covers all your literary needs. From BBC News:
In most countries passing a driving test is determined - unsurprisingly - by the candidate's ability to drive.
But in Turkmenistan, knowledge of the highway code and control of the steering wheel are no longer enough.
Candidates now have to pass an exam in President Niyazov's spiritual writings, contained in a book named the Ruhnama.
"The exam in the Ruhnama is needed to educate future drivers in the high moral principles of Turkmen society," an official told the AFP news agency.
Mr Niyazov, Turkmenistan's "president for life" whom correspondents say is at the focus of a flourishing personality cult, wrote the Ruhnama as a moral guide to his six million people.
Peruse this thread where infidel blasphemers mock glorious leader Turkmenbashi. Especially limericks further on. May the forks of his lightning impale you! Incidentally* not many people know that limerick is a traditional Turkmen verse form from Turkmen town of Limerek* where Turkmen poet Tahmasp Khan used it for his seventeenth century Turkmen epic poem dedicated to heroic deeds and courtly loves of a noble Turkmen musk melon.
*Now renamed Turkmenbashi, like most Turkmen towns, in a bid to simplify geography, Glorious Leader's weakest subject at school. "O noble Turkman, couldst thou tell me the way to Turkmenbashi?" "Why, certainly, noble but underinformed traveller. Proceed for forty sapurmetres until you come to Turkmenbashi, then head east to Turkmenbashi where you must take a right turn in the direction of Turkmenbashi. Turkmenbashi is on the way. Thou canst not miss it." "That's just south of Turkmenbashi, right?" "Thou gotst it."
DON'T FLASH YOUR TEETH
Lifelong ruler of Turkmenistan Saparmurat Niyazov has declared war on gold teeth. The former communist satrap, dressing himself up in the robes of a progressive khan, has decided that gold tooth crowns, once a status symbol in Soviet Central Asia and the Caucasus, are a relic of the past. "Sebiljan, I don't want to hurt your feelings", said the Turkmenbashi to a female student during a visit to Ashgabat University. "You look beautiful with those gold teeth, but you would look even more beautiful with white ones. Go to the dentist and change your teeth." In Turkmenistan the absolute ruler's every word has the power of law. Earlier this year it was enough for him to say he didn't like beards and long hair on men for them to disappear immediately.
THE TURKMENBASHI WANTS A RIVER IN ASHGABAT
The great Saparmurat Turkmenbashi, Father of All the Turkmens, or -as he is known in this earthly life- Saparmurat Niyazov, lifelong president of Turkmenistan, is throwing down the following challenge to the forces of nature.
He has ordered a river to flow in Ashgabat, the desert capital of his desert country. He gathered his ministers together and appealing to their patriotism, reminded them that "the self-respecting capitals of self-respecting states" as a rule are situated on rivers. And Ashgabat too will have "its own Thames", thanks to the efforts of French and Turkish construction companies, to whom the Turkmenbashi - who in the Soviet past was the first secretary of the communist party of Turkmenistan- will entrust the historic task of building a river. The river will flow into a big artificial lake which the president has also ordered to be built in the desert.
YOU LOVE US, YOU REALLY DO!
"There is good working relationship between Turkmenistan and the European Union," said Michael Wilson, advisor to the EU's TACIS programme in Turkmenistan.
"I think the working relationship has improved dramatically. And I think the professionalism from both sides has also increased dramatically. They are able to speak with each other and they are able to work with each other," said Wilson.
Explaining the mechanism of interaction between the EU and partner countries, Wilson told, "There are two methods of interaction: PCA (Partnership Cooperation Agreement) and TCA (Trade and Cooperation Agreement)."
"PCA can come into force only after all the EU member countries ratify the agreement that usually takes several years," he explained.
Eight of the 15 member countries have ratified already the EU-Turkmenistan PCA.
On the other hand, he explained, TCA is a handy instrument of mutual cooperation. "Some countries, including Turkmenistan, are working with EU through TCA," informed TACIS chief.
He said that usually countries moved from TCA to PCA. "Both sides are working on different components of PCA. The government [of Turkmenistan] understands it all and has expressed the desire to work toward ratification of PCA."
"Things are improving, relationship is impriving, understanding is improving," Wilson underlined.
"There is constructive dialogue, not just words. There is will on the Turkmen side to understand what are the conditionalities, what are the components of these agreements. There is willingness on the Commission’s side to understand their difficulties," he added.
Wilson also commented that all the EU members were supporting Turkmenistan to work on the components to move toward ratification of PCA and they had expressed willingness to fund this activity where necessary.
Speaking about the recent meeting between TACIS and Turkmenistan in Brussels, Wilson said, "Turkmenistan expressed keen desire to be involved with the European Union in the energy and markets and they wanted to follow up on this which was accepted by Brussels."
"It was expressed that they would like to be involved at the highest level with the departments inside the commission to look the possibility of pipelines to Europe," he said.
Turkmenistan is also interested to expand its cooperation with the EU in the field of education, especially the vocational training.
Over the next two years TACIS would be providing Euro 3 million to Turkmenistan – may be more – in the shape of various cooperation programmes.
TROOPS TO REPLACE TURKMEN MEDICS
President Saparmurat Niyazov of Turkmenistan has ordered the dismissal of 15,000 medical workers.
It is likely that at least some of the hospital work left behind would now be done by conscript soldiers.
The Turkmen leader said the move would reduce state spending on healthcare and the workers will not be replaced.
Cheaply-employed conscripts perform a number of jobs in Turkmenistan - from policing traffic on the streets to working in factories.
However, it is not clear how much training the soldiers will receive before entering the health service.
The cuts come in every department of the health service but some special groups are targeted - nurses, midwives, school health visitors and orderlies.
This means that very many of those now redundant are women treating other women and children.
President Niyazov says the cuts are part of a restructuring of the health service which is being privatised.
Instead of free health care for all, Turkmens are now supposed to take out insurance to cover most health needs.
It is true that the Turkmen health service is in very poor shape - but critics argue that the mass sacking was done without consultation or real planning.
The army will likely be called in to fill some gaps, as has happened before.
Two years ago, all the traffic policemen were sacked and now the streets are patrolled by army recruits.
And a clothes factory in the ancient city of Merv is staffed by the military.
President Niyazov, who recently banned men from keeping beards, apparently makes his decisions single-handedly.
There is no real parliament or any political checks and balances.
International bodies tend to have their movements restricted in Turkmenistan, while foreign governments tend not to raise their voices against the president's methods.
This good site devoted to Ruhnama, our spiritual guide for new age. See how good you do in quiz here. Some questions need much pondering, for instance: if a horse which can gallop when it is fat can also gallop when it is thin, it is a good horse, true or false? And can ants united can defeat a tiger or a lion? Hmmm, tough questions. I would be stroking my beard now had I not shaved it off like Turkmenbashi tell me to.
YOU CAN'T SAY FAIRER THAN THAT...
BBC News Wednesday September 3, 2003
Several Russian newspapers focus on a new ministry in Turkmenistan, comparing it to the Ministry of Truth in George Orwell's novel 1984.What is this George Orwell? Only one book you need read - Ruhnama!
Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov recently announced that the Ministry of Justice would become the Ministry of Fairness and take on "extra rights and obligations" to maintain law and order.
"It is not known whether Nyyazow has read Orwell but the Ministry of Fairness is certainly very like a structure described in detail by the English writer," writes Nezavisimaya Gazeta.
A view echoed in Moskovskiy Komsomolets. "George Orwell can hardly have suspected that the country of the all-seeing Big Brother he invented which, in his story, was somewhere in Central Europe, is actually in the heart of the Orient - it is Turkmenistan."
THIS IS A NEUTRAL COUNTRY FOR NEUTRAL PEOPLE
From a Radio Free Europe report on Flag Day, February 19
To be sure, Turkmenistan has undergone many changes since gaining independence in 1991. The capital Ashgabat has new buildings and a scattering of largely empty five-star hotels. It also has the Arch of Neutrality -- commemorating the United Nations decision in 1995 to grant the country neutral status -- complete with a revolving golden statue of Niyazov that perpetually faces the sun.
And it has the artificial lake touted by the president. The project, being built in desert lands at an estimated cost of $6.5 billion, does not actually mean more water for Turkmenistan. It just means the same amount of water, in a different place.
It is unclear how such achievements have affected the lives of ordinary Turkmen citizens, who continue to struggle on an average monthly wage of less than $20.
Today's Flag Day celebrations -- which also mark Turkmenbashi's 64th birthday -- showed a public living in harmony with their leader. A children's chorus sang Niyazov's praises in Turkmen and English, and a magnificent chestnut stallion was presented to the president.