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How State TV Covered Turkmenistan's Uncompetitive Election

We wrote last week about the emerging personality cult surrounding Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov.

Not to be outdone by his predecessor Saparmurat Niyazov (who once had a meteorite dedicated to him), Berdymukhammedov has had streets and schools renamed after himself and his relatives. He is also rumored to be writing his own spiritual guide for the nation, to rival Niyazov's epic "Rukhnama" (Book of the Soul).

In light of that, has a fascinating tidbit, with an English-subtitled clip from Turkmenistan's state TV coverage of last week's election. Berdymukhammedov won with 97 percent of the vote.

As Annasoltan writes:
I expect the video will be interesting to outsiders for a few reasons. One is that it provides a window into our official culture and festivities surrounding political events, and shows how the president’s personality cult is at the center of everything. In an attempt to build a nation-state, like in other countries cultural traditions are adopted to legitimize a political process (2:12) (it’s ironic that the mere fact that an election was held on Turkmen soil is celebrated as a festivity) but take notice of the spiritualization of the voting ritual — and that’s what it’s become, an empty religious-like action — especially the chanting (3:43) and the creepy way officials speak in unison to the President and his father (4:02).
-- Luke Allnutt

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Written by RFE/RL editors and correspondents, Transmission serves up news, comment, and the odd silly dictator story. While our primary concern is with foreign policy, Transmission is also a place for the ideas -- some serious, some irreverent -- that bubble up from our bureaus. The name recognizes RFE/RL's role as a surrogate broadcaster to places without free media. You can write us at

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