Ashgabat, 16 November 2002 (RFE/RL) - The Turkmen press reports that President Saparmurat Niyazov (pictured) has sacked a deputy prime minister and agriculture minister after a poor cotton harvest. The official "Neitralnyi Turkmenistan" newspaper said that Niyazov sacked Deputy Prime Minister for Agricultural Issues Redjep Saparov and Agricultural Minister Rustam Artykov, together with four regional leaders.
The dismissals come after Turkmenistan harvested only 500,000 tons of cotton, or 25 percent of the state's harvest target for this year.
Turkmenistan suffered an unusually wet spring, which experts say is likely to have affected the cotton crop. But Niyazov also blamed the "lack of responsibility, unprofessionalism, incompetence, and dishonesty of leaders in the center and in the regions" for the failure, the newspaper reported.