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The president meets the people

The president meets the people

Turkmen parliamentarians have been told by their president to visit rural areas more often to talk to villagers and ask about their problems.

Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov said this week the lawmakers should familiarize themselves with the situation in remote corners of the country. Special instructions on this regard were given to the Parliament Speaker Akja Nurberdiyeva and Deputy Prime Minister Baymurat Hodzhamuhammedov.

Berdymukhammedov's approach on rural development seems to be markedly different to that of his predecessor, Saparmurat Niyazov (Turkmenbashi), who closed down clinics, hospitals, libraries, and cultural centers as part of his "rural development."

"Villagers should visit city doctors if they get sick," Niyazov once instructed. Or: "Village people don't read books anyway," he said after ordering the closure of rural libraries.

It didn't stop him, however, from making his own book, "Ruhnama" -- spiritual guidance -- compulsory reading for all Turkmen, including villagers.

-- Farangis Najibullah

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