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Turkmen Dictator's Grandson In Media Glare

  • Antoine Blua

A video grab showing Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov's grandson Keringuly.

A video grab showing Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov's grandson Keringuly.

He took center stage at a concert where U.S. singer Jennifer Lopez was the star attraction. He's been shown on horseback during a children's song-and-dance performance. And in other television clips he simply appears by his grandfather's side, clasping the older man by the hand.

Kerimguly Berdymukhammedov, the approximately 12-year-old grandson of Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymuhammedov, has been getting state media attention of a kind bestowed on no other member of Turkmenistan's first family.

One of Kerimguly's early media appearances came in February 2012, when he accompanied his grandfather to a polling station.

The boy has since appeared on several occasions at public events in Turkmenistan.

Here's a compilation of some of those related video clips from Turkmen state TV:

Most recently he performed on the piano at a lavish June 29 celebration marking the president’s 56th birthday at the Caspian Sea resort of Avaza, a show that controversially featured Jennifer Lopez:

Dressed in traditional Turkmen costume and introduced simply as "Kerimguly Berdymukhammedov," he performed -- along with other musicians and singers -- an ode to Turkmenistan and its "Protector," one of Berdymukhammedov's titles.

The song's lyrics go: "Your nights are beautiful. It’s shining. We are proud of you, Our Beloved Motherland. You have become so fabulous under the Protector."

Berdymukhammedov’s family is shrouded in secrecy, and little is known about the young Kerimguly, including the identity of his parents.

According to a cable from the U.S. Embassy in Ashgabat dated December 2009, the elder Berdymukhammedov and his wife have two daughters and a son.

The son, named Serdar, studied international relations in Moscow and worked at the Foreign Ministry last year.

The older daughter, Guljahan, is said to be married to Yhlasgeldi Amanov, who has worked as a representative of the Turkmen Agency for Use and Management of Hydrocarbon Resources for Europe, based in London.

According to another cable from the U.S. Embassy in Ashgabat dated November 2009, the couple has one daughter, Aynagozel, born in 2009, and a son, Ysmayyl, born in 2005.

Berdymukhammedov’s other daughter was reportedly living in Paris in 2009 when his husband was working at the Turkmen Embassy in France.

The December 2009 cable mentioned a rumor that Berdymukhammedow has a longtime ethnic Russian mistress named Marina. She was reportedly a nurse at a dental clinic where Berdymukhammedow worked. She is said to have a 17- or 18-year-old daughter with the president.

RFE/RL Turkmen Service Director Muhammad Tahir contributed to this report