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Turkmen Report: August 6, 2003

6 August 2003
Turkmen People's Council To Play Larger Role
1 August 2003

The Turkmen parliament has drafted a set of legislative bills aimed at fighting terrorism and countering attempts to overthrow the government, Interfax reported on 1 August, citing a spokesman for the Turkmen parliament.

According to the source, the bills had been drafted as directed by the People's Council, which held an emergency session on 30 December in the wake of an alleged attempt to assassinate President Saparmurat Niyazov on 25 November. The bills provide for increasing the rights of the People's Council, which is to become a permanent top legislative body.

Niyazov told the cabinet on 28 July that the president, cabinet ministers, judges, delegates from every district in the country, leaders of parties, and NGOs incorporated in the National Revival Movement and leaders of trade unions will all take part in the 2,600-seat People's Council. The new legislation is needed to prevent "what the scoundrels, numbering about 50, who planned a terror attack intended to do, i.e., overthrow the legitimate authorities by force and violence," Niyazov told the cabinet. "The plotters intended to kill the president while another group was to seize parliament and disband the People's Council and a third group, to take over the TV station," he said. "If somebody acts to change the constitutional order by force, the People's Council will meet and issue legislation to counter the intrigues of conspirators," Niyazov said. The parliament's role will be somewhat reduced "until the formation of statehood is brought to completion. Parliament will have a different role to play in 2010, when the statehood building process is complete. It will supervise the operation of local and regional representative bodies," he said. (Interfax)

Turkmenistan Postpones Land Privatization, Tax Reform
1 August 2003

Turkmen President Niyazov ruled on 31 July to postpone land privatization and tax reform for a year, ITAR-TASS reported the next day. "Both documents need to be seriously improved, no haste should be allowed in such important issues," the president said at a government meeting that considered the agenda of the parliament that had to pass a bill on land and a new tax code on 14-15 August.

"The submitted drafts of the bill on land give no answer to the main question -- which principles should govern the transfer of land into private use," Niyazov said, and recalled that in drought-hit Turkmenistan land was usually divided together with water.

"However, water-division issues are not envisaged in the draft," the president said. He noted that the government is paying a half of all agricultural expenses. "Is a private landowner ready to invest considerable finances?" he asked. (ITAR-TASS)

Azerbaijan Hopes To Resume Talks With Turkmenistan On Caspian Sea Division
31 July 2003

Khalaf Khalafov, the Azerbaijani deputy foreign minister and representative in the special working group on defining the Caspian Sea's legal status, expressed hope that Azerbaijan would soon resume negotiations with Turkmenistan on dividing part of the Caspian Sea between the two countries, CNA reported on 31 July.

"The date of resumption of Turkmen-Azerbaijani talks depends, first of all, on Kazakh-Turkmen talks being held these days," Khalafov said. Bilateral talks were terminated about two years ago due to the disagreement between Ashgabat and Baku over methods of defining the Caspian Sea median line. (CNA)

Turkmenistan Building Largest Mosque In Central Asia
31 July 2003

Turkmenistan is building a grand mosque in Kypchak, the ancestral village of President Niyazov, CNA reported on 31 July. With enough space for 7,000 male and 3,000 female worshippers, it will be the biggest mosque in Central Asia. The three-story building will have a 55-meter dome and 87.5-meter towers. There will be underground parking large enough for 100 buses and 400 cars. White marble is being used throughout the construction of the building. The French construction company Bouygyes is carrying out the project. The total cost of the mosque complex is said to be $100 million. The project is expected to be completed in 2004. (CNA)

Russia Ready To Send Delegation To Check On Expatriates In Turkmenistan
30 July 2003

Russia and Turkmenistan have agreed to hold the second session of their joint commission on citizenship matters in Moscow in September, Interfax reported on 30 July, citing the Russian Foreign Ministry. According to the source, this understanding was reached at a 29 July meeting in Moscow between the Russian co-chairman, Deputy Foreign Minister Aleksei Fedotov, and the Turkmen ambassador to Russia, Khalnazar Agakhanov.

At the meeting it was noted that "The situation with dual citizenship has somewhat stabilized, but several questions remain unresolved." Fedotov raised the question of canceling exit visas in the passports of individuals holding both Turkmen and Russian citizenship. Following a proposal by Turkmen President Niyazov that Russia send a delegation to his country to check on the position of ethnic Russians, the Turkmen side was told that such a visit is being planned. (Interfax)

Turkmen Special Services Check College Applications
29 July 2003

Persons applying for admission to institutions of higher education in Turkmenistan are having their documents checked by the Ministry of National Security (MNB), and Interfax reported on 29 July.

The check is to ensure that applicants have worked for at least two years before seeking admission to an institute of higher education, in accordance with a decree issued by President Niyazov in early July requiring prospective students to have worked for at least two years in their chosen field and to present a recommendation from their place of work as well as a Soviet-style work record proving that they actually worked somewhere.

In the process of checking the documents of applicants for higher education, the MNB has turned up a number of cases in which school administrators have falsified the work records needed for admission to universities, reported. As a result of the discoveries, three heads of regional education departments, four school directors, and director of a kindergarten have been fired.

According to, quoting reports in the state-run Turkmen media, falsifications have been particularly numerous in the Serakhs Etrap (region) of Akhal Velayat (area) and the Koitendag Etrap of Lebap Velayat. However, such cases reportedly have been detected throughout the country and are now being investigated by the security ministry. The beneficiaries of the falsifications are being blacklisted. (, Interfax)