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Turkmenistan Launches Campaign To Justify $1.9 Billion 'Olympic City'

LEBAP, Turkmenistan -- The Turkmen government has launched a mass campaign in support of its recent plan to spend $1.9 billion on building a new "Olympic City" sports complex in Ashgabat, RFE/RL's Turkmen Service reports.

An RFE/RL correspondent in Turkmenistan's eastern Lebap Province reports that a day after the plan was announced by state media on September 4, ministries, state committees, schools, universities, state and private enterprises, and civic organizations started to host meetings "to show support for the government's huge investment plan for sports facilities."

A bank official who talked to RFE/RL's correspondent on condition of anonymity said the rushed meetings prove the government's sensitivity to potential negative reaction in foreign media.

According to Turkmen media, the Turkish construction company Polimeks will build the complex. Polimeks has recently completed construction of a new medical university in Turkmenistan, including a general hospital that cost $59 million.

The new project is to include 30 sports facilities and a football stadium with a capacity of 60,000 people.

State news agency TDH has described the government's plan as further proof of the state's concern for individual citizens.

But one Lebap resident, who gave his name as Seyitnazar, said, "It is just a waste of money."

Turkmenistan has competed in four Summer Olympic Games but has never won an Olympic medal.