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Turkmen Report: September 15, 2003


15 September 2003
NATIONAL NEWS
Activists In Moscow Demonstrate For Human Rights In Turkmenistan
12 September 2003

Activists from leading human rights organizations protested in front of the Turkmen Embassy in Moscow for an end to human rights abuses in Turkmenistan, AP reported on 12 September.

The demonstration was organized by Amnesty International. Amnesty says many Turkmens, including women and children, have been persecuted, tortured, and had their property confiscated on political grounds.

The protest coincides with the second anniversary of the publication of Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov's book "Rukhnama," which Turkmens are obliged to study. (AP)

Turkmenistan Celebrates Second Anniversary Of 'Rukhnama'
12 September 2003

Turkmenistan celebrated the second anniversary of the publication of President Niyazov's book "Rukhnama," turkmenistan.ru reported on 12 September.

There was plenty of national cuisine, exhibitions and trade fairs, gala concerts, and sport events in the cities and villages of Turkmenistan. Festivities in Ashgabat culminated in big stage shows in Altyn Asyr park, featuring famous national singers (bakhshi), popular dance teams, and Turkmen pop stars.

"We all feel very proud and excited every time we open this unique book shedding light and warmth," the Turkmen State News Agency commented. "An unseen but strong link has united all Turkmen citizens and stretched from heart to heart. This link is the lasting light of 'Rukhnama' that will show us the true path to self-perfection, to developing human qualities that Turkmen have had since ancient times, which gave them prominence as spiritually rich people." (Turkmenistan.ru)

NGO Rates Turkmenistan Worst For Press Freedom In Central Asia
11 September 2003

The international journalists' NGO Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has published what it describes as the first worldwide index of press freedom, the Azerbaijani news agency Echo reported on 11 September.

The index rates freedom of the media in 139 countries. Among the post-Soviet Central Asian states, Tajikistan rated highest at 86th. Kyrgyzstan is 98th, Kazakhstan is 116th, and Uzbekistan is 120th. Turkmenistan rated 136th, just three places ahead of last-place North Korea.

Finland, Iceland, Norway, and the Netherlands all tied for first place, while the United States came in at No. 17. RSF explained that it drew up the list to make the point that press freedom is under threat nearly everywhere. (Echo)

Turkmen Deputy Prime Minister Decorated
11 September 2003 President Niyazov signed a decree awarding Berdimurat Rejepov, the deputy prime minister and head of Turkmendemiryollary (Turkmen Railways), the "Altyn Asyr" (Golden Age) Order third class, turkmenistan.ru reported on 11 September.

According to the decree, Rejepov was awarded "for special merit before neutral Turkmenistan and its united people and for his great contribution to the development of transportation system and communications, for his honest and hard work." (Turkmenistan.ru)

Turkmen Dissidents In Moscow Said Under Ashgabat Surveillance
10 September 2003

The Turkmen intelligence service has been organizing attacks on Turkmen dissidents in Moscow, the Russian daily "Nezavisimaya gazeta" reported on 10 September.

Russian human rights campaigners are critical of the situation in Turkmenistan and a scheduled visit to Ashgabat by Russian Duma deputies and journalists is now unlikely to take place, the paper said.

The Turkmen national security services' activity in the Russian capital is no longer a secret to anyone. Turkmen oppositionists say openly that they are constantly under surveillance by their "native" special services. This became particularly clear after the alleged attack on President Niyazov on 25 November 2002. This year alone, six attacks on Turkmen dissidents have been recorded in Moscow. ("Nezavisimaya gazeta")

Niyazov, Kuchma Discuss Bilateral Cooperation
10 September 2003

The presidents of Turkmenistan and Ukraine discussed issues of bilateral cooperation in a telephone conversation on 9 September, turkmenistan.ru reported the next day, citing Turkmen State News Agency.

According to the report, Saparmurat Niyazov and Leonid Kuchma "have expressed great satisfaction with the recent level of practical cooperation." They noted Ukraine's successful fulfillment of the obligations regarding implementation of investment projects in Turkmenistan. A joint rail and automobile bridge over the Amudaria River and a compressor station in Yilanly, construction on both of which has entered its final stages, were cited as examples of successful cooperation in this field.

The issue of payments by Ukraine for Turkmen natural gas was discussed as well. Kuchma assured Niyazov that this issue will be strictly controlled and payments to Turkmenistan will be made in due time and in full. (Turkmenistan.ru)

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