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  For Democracy and Human Rights in Turkmenistan
NEWS 2017 .
30.04.2017, 19:35 Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
Turkmen President Wins Horse Race As Country Marks National Horse Day

Turkmenistan has marked its national Horse Day, an annual holiday celebrated with particular enthusiasm by authoritarian President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov.

State media reported that Berdymukhammedov, who holds nearly absolute power in the tightly controlled Central Asian country, rode the winning horse in a race held to mark the holiday on April 29.

The race took place at the Equestrian Sports Complex near Ashgabat as part of nationwide events to celebrate the Turkmen Horse Day, which culminated in an annual horse-beauty contest.

Berdymukhammedov is known for his love of horses and has authored books on the national Akhal Teke horse breed, which is revered in Turkmenistan.

In 2011, he decreed that a beauty contest for the country's thoroughbred horses should be held in Turkmenistan annually on the last weekend of April.

Authorities in Turkmenistan, which activists and rights groups accuse of stamping out free speech and tolerating no dissent, unveiled a giant golden statue of Berdymukhammedov on horseback in the capital in 2015.

The statue was seen as a sign of a growing personality cult celebrating the authoritarian leader, one comparable to that of Berdymukhammedovs eccentric and ruthless predecessor, Saparmurat Niyazov, who died in in 2006.

Berdymukhammedov narrowly escaped serious injury in a horse riding event in Ashgabat in 2013, when his horse fell after crossing the finish line, throwing him in front of other horses which only just missed him.

With reporting by

27.04.2017, 18:50 Gundogar
Turkmenistan: Staying At The Bottom

On April 26, the Paris-based press rights group Reporters Without Borders (RSF) presented its 2017 World Press Freedom Index, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported.

Media freedom is increasingly threatened under authoritarian regimes as well as in countries regarded as models of democracy, and violations of press freedom are no longer the prerogative of authoritarian regimes and dictatorships, RSF warned.

At the bottom of the index, Turkmenistan has held on to its 178th-place ranking - a ranking higher than only North Korea and Eritrea.

RSF says any criticism of President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov is inconceivable in Turkmenistan, where the government has total control over media.

The government has intensified its harassment of the few remaining correspondents of foreign- based independent media and also continues its campaign to remove all satellite dishes, denying the public of one of its last chances to access alternative news, RSF says.

Turkmenistans neighbors, Azerbaijan, Iran, and Uzbekistan are all colored black on RSF's 2017 world map, meaning that the situation of press freedom in these countries is classified as very bad.

Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Tajikistan are among the countries where the situation for press rights is bad, while Georgia, Armenia, Moldova, Kyrgyzstan, and Ukraine are ranked among the index's orange countries, where RSF says the media-freedom situation is considered a noticeable problem.

20.04.2017, 16:37
The ACCI Concerned About an Increase In Insecurity In Areas TAPI Is Expected To Pass Through

The Ministry of Mines and Petroleum is working on a security plan and the route for the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) pipeline project, said ministry of mines spokesman Zabihullah Sarwari.

According to him, the security plan for the project has been outlined.

Government has worked on this part and we hope that our plans continue based on the TAPI implementation schedule, he told TOLOnews on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industries (ACCI) said they are concerned about an increase in insecurity in areas the pipeline is expected to pass through.

The primary work of TAPI might be a top priority of government, but it seems that government is busy with other issues and it has forgotten about this mega economic project, said Atiqullah Nasrat, CEO of the ACCI.

The pipeline will stretch for 1,735 kilometers and will have the capacity to carry 33 billion cubic meters of gas from Turkmenistan to Pakistan and India through Herat, Farah, Helmand and Nimroz provinces of Afghanistan.

19.04.2017, 01:51 Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
Turkmen, Kazakh Presidents Sign Strategic Partnership Treaty

Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev and Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov have signed a strategic partnership treaty that Kazakhstans president says will resolve all border disputes between the two countries.

Interfax reports that the signing took place on April 18 in Kazakhstans capital, Astana, during the first day of a two-day visit by Turkmenistans president.

Nazarbaev called the accord a vital treaty of strategic partnership and the beginning of a new stage of development.

Interfax quoted Nazarbaev as saying that Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan will be the only two countries in the Central Asia region that will not have border problems.

Turkmenistan temporarily closed its border with Kazakhstan on several occasions during the summer of 2016 for what Turkmen authorities said were security concerns.

Those closures came after deadly attacks on police stations in Kazakhstan earlier in the summer that officials blamed on terrorists.

During the Turkmen presidents two-day visit to Astana, Berdymukhammedov and Nazarbaev also were expected to sign eight other documents - including agreements on border demarcation, an intergovernmental commission, mutual protection of classified information, and cooperation between foreign ministries.

An agreement on combatting illegal money laundering and the financing of terrorism also was expected to be signed.

Berdymukhammedov told reporters on April 18 that Turkmenistan supports Kazakhstan's domestic, regional, and international initiatives. But he did not get into specifics.

With reporting by Interfax, Tengrinews and Kazinform

17.04.2017, 19:32 Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
Turkmen President Pushes Drive To Make Country Tobacco-Free By 2025

Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov is pushing ahead with his plan to make the Central Asian country tobacco-free by 2025, state media reports.

State-run newspaper Neitralny Turkmenistan said on April 15 that the president had signed a program ordering measures to be taken over the next five years to push his initiative, but it did not provide details.

Berdymukhammedov maintains strict control over all aspects of society.

He has been a proponent of healthy living and has made it a key aspect of his autocratic rule.

In 2013, he banned the sale of cigarettes in state stores during the month of April each year.

Based on reporting by the BBC and AP

06.04.2017, 23:37 Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
Turkmen President Fires Longtime Energy-Sector Official

Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov has fired his leading energy official for weak control of the country's important oil-and-gas sector, state media reports.

The state-controlled Neutral Turkmenistan newspaper on April 6 said the president cited shortcomings in supervising the sector on the part of Yashigeldy Kakaev, the deputy prime minister for energy.

Maksat Babaev, the outgoing chief of the Turkmengaz state gas company, will replace Kakaev, the reports said.

The energy sector accounts for more than 90 percent of the ex-Soviet country's exports.

The country of more than 5 million people - bordering Afghanistan, Iran, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan has been hit hard by a prolonged slump in natural gas prices, which have fallen almost 50 percent since 2014.

Turkmenistan, nevertheless, has insisted on exporting natural gas at pre-2014 prices, leading to the loss of Russia and Iran as customers and leaving essentially just China.

The firing of Kakaev, a respected energy industry veteran, from such a crucial position could have wide-ranging impact on the economy.

Kakaev became chief of the energy sector in 2015 after serving in several other top energy-related positions over the past 20 years. He has been credited with driving big gains in the sector.

Luca Anceschi, a professor of Central Asian studies at Glasgow University, told RFE/RL that Kakaev's dismissal certifies the ultimate failure of Berdymukhammedovs energy policy.

It is a sign of regime denial, as Kakaev's failures are not attributable to personal shortcomings, Anceschi added. They relate most directly to the implementation of a policy course that was flawed at its very onset.

With reporting by AFP and AP

01.04.2017, 17:07 Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
Turkmenistan, Belarus Launch USD 1 Billion Potash Fertilizer Plant

The leaders of Turkmenistan and Belarus have attended the launch of a potash fertilizer plant worth more than USD 1 billion in eastern Turkmenistan.

The leaders of Turkmenistan and Belarus have attended the launch of a potash fertilizer plant worth more than USD 1 billion in eastern Turkmenistan.

Speaking at the ceremony in Lebap Province, Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov said the plant would help meet high domestic and export demand for the fertilizer.

The Garlyk mining and processing plant was built by Belarus, one of the world's leading producers of potash, near local potash deposits.

Construction was fully financed by the state, media reports said.

The plant is reportedly capable of producing 1.4 million tons of the fertilizer annually. It is expected to export its products to China, India, and other countries.

Based on reporting by AP and Interfax