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In Turkmenbashi's Footsteps?

A huge portrait of President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov beside the horse track in Ashgabat

A huge portrait of President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov beside the horse track in Ashgabat

A new school in the Turkmen province of Akhal has been named after President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov's grandfather, Berdimukhammed Annaev.

The eponym came with privileges.

Annaev School's three-story building towers above neighboring homes in Annaev's birthplace, the village of Yzgant. Unlike many other schools in Turkmenistan's rural areas, it's equipped with modern computers. It also has its own museum of local history.

Naming various institutions and locations after presidential relatives is hardly a new practice in Turkmenistan.

Berdymukhammedov's predecessor, Saparmurat Niyazov, known as Turkmenbashi (Leader of All Turkmen) had renamed a city and two calendar months after himself and his mother. Not to mention the giant, rotating, golden statue of him in the capital, Ashgabat.

It remains to be seen whether Berdymukhammedov will follow Turkmenbashi's path, renaming streets and schools after himself and his family.

Berdymukhammedov clearly shares Niyazov's fondness for authoring books. In less than three years in office, the former dentist has published at least three books.

Turkmenbashi authored numerous books on a variety of subjects, from history to poetry and philosophy. His most prominent work, "Rukhama," was compulsory reading for all Turkmen students, including in driving schools.

-- Farangis Najibullah

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