Месяц назад я побывал в одной из самых закрытых стран мира — Туркменистане. Репортажи оттуда вызвали небывалый отклик и стали самыми посещаемыми в моем блоге за последний год. Так как тема оказалась интересна не только русскоязычным читателям, но и иностранным, я перевел посты на английский язык. Ближайшую неделю буду публиковать английскую версию постов про Туркменистан. А вы распространяйте ;)
The first President of Turkmenistan, Saparmurat Niyazov, ruled the country for over 30 years. Back in 1985 he was appointed First Secretary of the Turkmen Soviet Socialist Republic’s Communist Party and prior to that he was the Head of Ashgabat City Administration.
When USSR staggered, Niyazov became the Head of Republic’s Supreme Council, which later declared the Republic’s independence. In June 1992 the former communist party employee was already elected President of Turkmenistan. People say it was an absolutely democratic election, with one candidate and fairly earned 99.5% of votes.
In just over a year, Medzhlis (local Parliament) awarded the title of Turkmenbashi to Niyazov, naming him the leader of all Turkmens around the world. Later on, the adjective “Great” was added to the title to make it even more convincing. Some optional titles used during his reign included “Savior of the Nation” and “Messenger of Allah”, a more universal title used by mass media was Serdar, or “Leader”. In addition to this, despite never having served in the army, Niyazov had a title of Marshall and was awarded the title of National Hero five times. On every meeting officials had to kiss his right hand, which was covered with diamond and emerald rings.
You might think that those were just titles, but there were other implications. The national anthem had to be changed each time the titles were changed. One Turkmen guy told me that one line on the school blackboard was always wiped out, so they could insert “Turkmenbashi”, “Great Turkmenbashi” or any other title.
By mid-90s Niyazov was seriously contemplating naming himself the Shah, but rumor has it that the elders were against it along with the state leaders of Iran, Russia and Uzbekistan. As a consolation, Turkmenbashi asked the Republic’s Peoples Council to declare him Lifelong President.
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