Daily Life in Turkmenbashys Golden Age

Ashgabat – The Golden Age
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Twice, soldiers shouted at me from a distance then ran up and demanded pictures be deleted. The earliest evidence of agriculture in Central Asia was discovered at Jeitun, an archeological site some 20 miles north of Ashgabat. Berdimuhamedow also resigned as the head of the Democratic Party of Turkmenistan. Since then, cases of malaria have fallen and Turkmenistan has made significant progress with malaria control; the disease is reported as having been eliminated. The enormous Karakum Canal was begun in the s to carry water from the Amu Darya to Ashgabat and to the irrigate cotton.

One man, who publishes academic research in nearby Kyrgyzstan, said he had put his doctoral thesis on architecture on ice for the whole of the post-Soviet period, faced with high fees in Russia and no outlet at home. Now though, Russian universities — benefiting from an oil boom and new-found confidence in Russia — are courting him and others like him, he said, with offers to help complete the thesis for free.

That could quicken the brain drain. Aman, the Rukhnama teacher, said he believed the book had a good side in that it contained moral lessons and taught Turkmens something of their own history. No one expected the new president to make anything other than gradual changes, he added.

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The last 15 years have not been a step forward but a step backwards. Discover Thomson Reuters. Directory of sites. United States. In Depth. Michael Steen. The book is a mix of folklore, morality, autobiography and history written in oracular style. LONG SHADOW Promises of reform by Berdymukhamedov, the new president, have led many to hope that education might recover in a country noted for its poor human rights record and repressive security apparatus.

But Rukhnama is not going away for the time being. Prime-time television still features the evening Rukhnama reading, just before the news. The irony is that despite all this the Rukhnama may actually be poorly known in Turkmenistan. After areas were conquered, Russian raids to stamp out resistance often continued. The conquest was accompanied by infrastructure to solidify Russian claims.

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"Beautifully written, and with plenty of anecdotes from his time in the country, Tranum merges recent history with that of daily Turkmen life and traditions." -- Open. Editorial Reviews. Review. "Beautifully written, and with plenty of anecdotes from his time in the country, Tranum merges recent history with that of daily Turkmen.

The Transcaspian Railway was constructed as the army advanced, improving mobility. The Caspian Sea port of Krasnovodsk present day Turkmenbashi was built to improve naval capabilities. Ashgabat was founded at a strategic location near the border with Persia, which was controlled by the British at the time. Ashgabat became the capital of the Transcaspian Oblast when annexation was completed in In , the native populations rebelled.

The shift to cotton production, along with the influx of settlers, left many Turkmen without land while facing high food prices and war taxes as Russia fought WWI. In this climate, a June decree to mobilize previously exempt Central Asian Muslims led to riots. Russian and Cossack forces countered these, and thousands of Turkmen fled the empire to Iran and Afghanistan. Following the revolutions, what had been anti-conscription protests evolved into the Basmachi Movement.

This was actually a number of separate movements, in which Turkmen, Kazakh, Kyrgyz, and Uzbek forces fought the Soviets, usually with the ultimate goal of establishing independent nations for their separate peoples. The Turkmen were led by Junaid Khan, based in Khiva present day Uzbekistan until , when he retreated to Afghanistan with his supporters. The Soviets secured the borders with Afghanistan and Iran to prevent further emigration and to prevent Basmachi fighters from returning. With industrialization and forced agricultural collectivization, by the late s, the traditionally nomadic Turkmen were mostly sedentary for the first time.

Irrigation measures fostered the production of fruits, vegetables, and cotton, changing the desert landscape. Although Turkmenistan is small and sparsely populated, it has massive natural gas deposits. The earthquake orphaned the future president, Saparmurat Niyazov, and is now memorialized by an annual, national day of mourning. Gas was exported mostly to other Soviet Republics, but also soon powered new industry, especially under the post-WWII reconstruction efforts. Russians and Ukrainians migrated to the republic in greater numbers to fill the jobs created by these factories.

Changes in daily life under the Soviets were great.

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The enormous Karakum Canal was begun in the s to carry water from the Amu Darya to Ashgabat and to the irrigate cotton. Turkmenistan declared independence from the crumbling Soviet Union on October 27, — one of the last countries to do so. His constitution established an officially secular, democratic republic, but with all branches of government subordinate to the president. Even the Council of Elders Mejlis , which would select presidential candidates, was presided over by the president. Turkmen became the sole language of the state and all educational instruction.

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Numerous holidays were introduced such as a Memorial Day for the Battle of Goek Tepe and several celebrating pre-Soviet national figures and traditional culture. Niyazov created a cult of personality. By , enrollment in higher education had dropped by almost half since Meanwhile,hospitals were closed, pensions were cut, independent news media closed, travel and internet restricted, and children were conscripted to pick cotton to help meet state agricultural goals.

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Political dissent was harshly punished, with measures strengthened after a assassination attempt on the president. That said, wealth remained centralized: high-paying jobs were mostly in the upper levels of government and most production was controlled by those close to the government. Like all post-Soviet nations in the s, the country faced unemployment, poverty, and economic instability.

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This has been hailed as a way to advance peace in Central Asia, to keep Turkmenistan separated from international disputes, and to keep state spending focused on the economy rather than the military. It has also been criticized as another way to keep Turkmenistan isolated from the international community and thus under absolute presidential control.

His presidency has been a mix of maintaining tight presidential control while rolling back more extreme policies. Berdimuhamedow shown in traditional Turkmen dress atop an Akhal-Teke horse. Berdimuhamedow has dismantled much of the Niyazov personality cult.

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He has returned the days of the week and months to their original names and moved the giant statue of Niyazov to the city outskirts. Portraits of himself have been disseminated to replace those of Niyazov. Compulsory education has been re-extended to 10 years, and Russian and English foreign language curricula introduced. The first legal opposition party, the Party of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs, was established in In , control of the public media was transferred from the president to loyal governmental organizations.

Berdimuhamedow also resigned as the head of the Democratic Party of Turkmenistan. Many problems of the Niyazov era continue. Corruption, poor economic freedom, and pressure maintained on the press remain complaints of the opposition. Children continue to harvest cotton. Also, religious groups must meet membership quotas for government registration.

This has effectively banned all but Islam and Orthodoxy in Turkmenistan. The police and intelligence services monitor the population closely and physical affection such as hand-holding and kissing in the capital are forbidden. Berdimuhamedow has largely maintained the economic policies of his predecessor. While Turkmenistan was once dependent on Russia as its only export route for its massive natural gas reserves, pipelines to China and Iran have been completed under Berdimuhamedow.

THE PRIVATE LIFE OF TURKMENBASHI

He has also negotiated to provide Europe with natural gas directly via a proposed connection to the proposed Nabucco pipeline. Some construction investments, however, have been more for show than utility. The major cities have whole streets of upper class housing that remain largely empty. Ashgabat now holds the world record for the highest concentration of marble buildings.

Berdimuhamedow built a massive new presidential palace to replace the one built recently completed by his predecessor. A acre market was built outside Ashgabat in to resemble, from above, an enormous traditional Turkmen carpet. Turkmenistan has maintained close relations with Iran, a country that it shares cultural and historical connections with — as well as hydrocarbon-richness. However, these hotels remain largely empty.