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Turkmen Report: December 8, 2003


8 December 2003
NATIONAL NEWS
Turkmenistan Increases Gas Extraction And Export
4 December

Turkmenistan increased gas extraction and exports by 10 percent, ITAR-TASS reported on 4 December, citing the Turkmen Ministry of the Oil and Gas Industry and Mineral Resources. Turkmenistan extracted 52.7 billion cubic meters and exported 38.9 billion cubic meters in the first 11 months of this year. Ukraine purchased over 31 billion cubic meters of Turkmen gas this year, with Iran increasing its gas purchases from Turkmenistan by 14.5 percent, bringing their total to almost 5 billion cubic meters. The Itera group of companies in Russia purchased almost 2 billion cubic meters of gas, making it Turkmenistan's third largest buyer. Russia's Gazprom signed a contract with Turkmenistan for 6 billion cubic meters for next year. (ITAR-TASS)

Turkmen TV Chairman Fired After Five Months
3 December

Turkmen State Television Chairman Gurbansoltan Handurdyeva was fired by President Saparmurat Niyazov after only five months in office, turkmenistan.ru reported on 3 December. The president's office issued a statement claiming that Handurdyeva and her two deputies, Klychmurad Kurbanov and Annaberdy Silabov, were unable to fulfill their responsibilities. Prior to the dismissals, Niyazov had criticized state television for its low level of professionalism and its failure to produce programs that would attract viewers. Niyazov gave a similar explanation after dismissing Handurdyeva's predecessor in July. (Turkmenistan.ru)

Powell Accuses Turkmenistan Of Violating OSCE Commitments
2 December

U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell accused Turkmenistan of violating basic commitments as a member state of OSCE on 2 December at the annual OSCE Ministerial Council in Maastricht, RIA-Novosti reported. He accused Turkmenistan's leadership of flouting OSCE commitments on human rights, both in political and religious spheres, and called on Ashgabat to act exclusively in accord with the international standards set out by the OSCE. (RIA-Novosti)

Niyazov Challenges 'Terrorist' Exiles To Return
1 December

President Niyazov called on exiled dissidents on 1 December to return and form political parties in Turkmenistan, RTR reported the same day. Speaking on state-run television programming, Niyazov said the Turkmen opposition in exile are all, "thieves, terrorists, and fugitives." Later, he said that if acquitted at trial, the same opposition members would not be persecuted. In the past, Niyazov has been accused of staging show trials of political dissidents. (RTR)

Turkmen President and Russian Ambassador Discuss Bilateral Ties
1 December

President Niyazov held an uncharacteristically long meeting with Russian Ambassador to Turkmenistan Andrei Molochkov on 1 December to discuss a range of bilateral issues, with a particular focus on cooperation in the oil and gas industry, turkmenistan.ru and Interfax reported. The two-hour talks also dealt with ongoing efforts to define the legal status of the Caspian Sea. A 2 December report in "Vremya Novostei" noted that the meeting came soon after a Russian State Duma hearing on 27 November censured Turkmenistan for its treatment of Russian citizens living in the country. A Russian Foreign Ministry official said that communications between the embassy in Ashgabat and the Turkmen Foreign Ministry have been difficult. Molochkov said that his talks with Niyazov were constructive. (Turkmenistan.ru, Interfax, Vremya Novostei)

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