23 October 2004 -- Turkmenistan is set to free 9,000 prisoners under an amnesty that President Saparmurat Niyazov grants annually ahead of the day marking the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
The prisoners will be released by the Eid al-Fitr holiday, which this year falls on 9 November.
Niyazov said the release will include 150 foreign nationals, including from Russia, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Armenia, and Moldova.
Turkmenistan's president-for-life made the announcement today at the opening of the annual three-day session of the People's Council, the country's highest legislative body.
He also said salaries and pensions will be increased by 50 percent beginning on 1 January 2005. Niyazov added that he will introduce a water law, slash taxes, and introduce long-term land leasing.