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Turkmen Report: August 31, 2004

31 August 2004
OSCE Criticizes Online Access In Central Asia
The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) closed a special conference on the Internet on 28 August with some critical comments on restricted online access in Central Asia, reported the same day.

OSCE legal and media experts meeting in Amsterdam said there is wide diversity -- what they call a "digital divide" -- in citizens' access to the Internet among the organization's 55 member countries.

Alexander Ivanko, a senior OSCE official, told VOA the organization wants more people to have the chance to get online.

"We discussed access to information and access to networks, looking at, for example, the digital divide and some interesting statistics," he said. "In some OSCE participating states, like Sweden, Finland, Norway, and Canada, there are about 5,000 users per 10,000 inhabitants. Then in places like Tajikistan, there are less than 10 users of the Internet per 10,000 inhabitants, and in Turkmenistan less than 20. Even in Russia it's about 500."

Ivanko says in Turkmenistan there is only one Internet provider, and it is firmly controlled by President, Saparmurat Niyazov.

Next month, the OSCE plans to hold a special media conference on Central Asia in the Tajik capital Dushanbe, where this case will be reviewed. (

Turkmenistan Appoints New Mufti
Turkmen officials have appointed a new mufti for the country, RFE/RL's Turkmen Service reported on 25 August.

Twenty-seven-year-old Rowshen Allaberdiyev takes over from Kakageldi Wepayev.

Wepayev was appointed after the previous mufti, ethnic Uzbek Ibn Ibadullah Nasullah, was sacked and jailed last year. (RFE/RL's Turkmen Service)

Niyazov Appoints New TV Directors
President Niyazov on 18 August appointed new directors to head two of Turkmenistan's three official television channels, reported, citing Turkmen TV.

Sadurdy Alovov will be the new director of the Altyn Asyr-Turkmenistan (Golden Age-Turkmenistan) channel, and Ylyas Durdiev will be the new director of the Yashlyk (Youth) channel. Their predecessors were dismissed on 16 August for "serious shortcomings" in their work (Turkmen TV,

Turkmen Cabinet Meeting Discusses 2005 State Budget
The Turkmen Cabinet of Ministers discussed issues related to preparation of the state budget of Turkmenistan for 2005 at a meeting held on 26 August, reported the next day.

Speaking at the meeting, President Niyazov instructed leaders of ministries, organizations, and regional administrations "to carefully balance capabilities of their ministries, organizations, and regions exactly at a stage of preparation of the next year budget, bearing in mind objective preconditions of the progressive development of the country." At the same time, the head of state noted that GDP growth in 2005 should be no less than 20 percent. According to Niyazov, "this objective requirement is conditioned by the fact that Turkmenistan has everything in place for the dynamic development in the path of furthering the comprehensive reforms." (

Turkmenistan To Build Children's Recreation Center In Gorge Near Ashgabat
A children's recreation center worth $11.3 billion will be built in the foothills of the Kopetdag mountains in the picturesque place of Geokdere (former Chuli), near Ashgabat, reported on 26 August.

The center can accomodate 525 people and is designed to be used by children of the workers of the Trade and Textile Industry ministries.

According to a decree signed by President Niyazov, the Trade Ministry and consumers' cooperation of Turkmenistan was authorized to sign a contract for the center with the Turkish Hayat Group Co.

The construction of the recreation center will also be financed by the ministries of trade and textile industry. It is to be done by April 2006. (