Prove They Are Alive!
За демократию и права человека в Туркменистане  For Democracy and Human Rights in Turkmenistan
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22.08.2017, 03:09 Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
Turkmenistan Opens First Animal Shelter Ahead Of Asian Games Share

Turkmenistan is officially opening its first shelter for stray cats and dogs as it prepares to host a major international athletic competition next month.

The shelter, founded by a resident at her home outside Ashgabat, was registered by the state and will receive government assistance, a report on August 21 in Neutral Turkmenistan said.

The government has pledged to allocate land to expand the shelter, which currently houses about 100 dogs and 50 cats. It also promised to provide medicine for it.

The move comes as animal rights activists condemned what they said was a brutal campaign to slaughter homeless animals ahead of the Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games, which Turkmenistan is hosting from September 17 to 27.

The Central Asian state has made extensive preparations for the prestigious games, including banning the sale of alcohol until the games are over, ordering former prison inmates to stay away from sports venues, and clearing beggars from the streets of Ashbagat.

Based on reporting by AP and RFE/RL's Turkmen Service

19.08.2017, 23:00 Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
Liquor Banned In Turkmen Capital Ahead Of International Games

Turkmen authorities have banned sales of alcohol in the capital, Ashgabat, ahead of the Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games (AIMAG) next month.

Media reports said on August 19 that liquor stores were closed down and alcoholic products taken off the shelves of food stores in the city.

There was no official announcement of an alcohol ban, but merchants at several liquor stores said authorities had ordered alcohol sales halted until October, AP reported.

AFP quoted an unidentified official in the Trade Ministry as saying the ban is related to the hosting of the AIMAG, which will place in Ashgabat from September 17 to September 27.

«The main goal of the ban is to ensure peace and public order in the country in connection with the strengthened regime introduced by law enforcement agencies from August 17,» the official said.

Turkmenistan wants to use the Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games - the hosting of which was the brainchild of authoritarian President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov - to boost its image as a regional sports hub.

The isolated nation expects tens of thousands of foreigners to visit during the event.

Ahead of the competition, authorities have restricted the movement of residents of the provinces to the capital, ordered former inmates to stay away from the games' venues, and tried to clear the city of stray dogs and cats as well child beggars.

Earlier this month, the New York-based Human Rights Watch and the Turkmen Initiative for Human Rights in Vienna called on the Olympic Council of Asia to remind Turkmenistan of its rights obligations.

As the organizer of the upcoming competition, the Olympic Council of Asia “should urge the Turkmen government to ensure that all journalists can do their work without fear of retaliation ahead of, during, and after the games,” an August 8 statement said.

The call came after a correspondent for RFE/RL in Turkmenistan was threatened with death by a man who identified himself as a police officer.

While en route to take photos documenting Turkmenistan's Day of Bicycles on July 29, Soltan Achilova said the man warned her against taking photos or she will be «finished.»

The previous week Achilova, 68, said a man tried to steal her cellphone as she was about to take a picture. The two recent attacks follow several incidents of harassment against Achilova in November 2016.

With reporting by AFP an AP

17.08.2017, 23:04 Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
Niyazov's Longtime Security Chief Dies After A Decade In Turkmen Prison, Activists Say

Turkmen authorities delivered Rejepov's body to relatives the same day, and ceremonies traditionally conducted seven days after death were held on August 17, Ponomaryov said.

A human rights group says that Akmurat Rejepov, who was Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov's longtime security chief and was arrested after the autocrat's death, died a week ago after 10 years held incommunicado in prison.

Vitaly Ponomaryov, chief of the Central Asia program at the Moscow-based Memorial Human Rights Center, said that Rejepov's relatives were told he died on August 10 as a result of thrombosis - a blood clot.

A lieutenant general known as the «gray cardinal,» Rejepov was considered one of the most influential allies of Niyazov, who ruled the natural-gas rich country with an iron fist and tolerated no dissent.

Rejepov served as Niyazov's chief bodyguard starting in 1985, when Niyazov became the leader of what was then still a Soviet republic.

Former Turkmen officials say he played a major role in bringing President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov to power after Niyazov's death was announced in December 2006.

But Berdymukhammedov dismissed Rejepov from the post of presidential security chief on May 15, 2007, and he was almost immediately arrested and charged with corruption.

In July 2007, Rejepov was convicted of bribery, fraud, extortion, tax evasion, and creating a criminal group, and was sentenced to 17 years in prison.

Officials never said publicly where he was serving his term, but he was believed to have been held in the remote Ovadan-Depe prison in the desert outside Ashgabat.

Rejepov was one of 88 people currently listed by Prove They Are Alive, a campaign urging Turkmenistan to provide information about people rights activists say have been sentenced on politically motivated charges and kept incommunicado for years.

With reporting by and

01.08.2017, 22:55 Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
RFE/RL Correspondent Threatened With Death In Turkmenistan

A correspondent for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty in Turkmenistan was threatened with death by a man who identified himself as a police officer, RFE/RL reported on July 31.

While en route to report on Turkmenistan's Day of Bicycles on July 29, Soltan Achilova said the man warned her against taking photographs or she will be «finished.»

The previous week, Achilova, 68, said a man tried to steal her cellphone as she was about to take a photo.

The two recent attacks follow several incidents of harassment against Achilova in November 2016, RFE/RL said.

«Journalism is not a crime, in Turkmenistan or elsewhere in the modern world. Soltan’s life has now been explicitly threatened in an effort to stop her from doing her job in Turkmenistan,” said RFE/RL President Thomas Kent.

“The Turkmen government must immediately put an end to the persecution of Soltan Achilova and assure her safety.”

Achilova is one of the main contributors to RFE/RL's Turkmen Service website of photos and videos from within Turkmenistan.

Attacks against RFE/RL contributors have intensified in recent years in the Central Asian nation, which is one of the world's most closed societies and is ranked »not free" in Freedom House's 2017 press freedom survey.

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