A ceremony has been held in Turkmenistan's southern city of Mary to mark the city officially obtaining the status of cultural capital of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) for 2012.
Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov on April 3 greeted Mary citizens and handed city authorities a certificate declaring Mary the CIS cultural capital.
A Russian delegation, led by CIS Executive Committee Chairman Sergei Lebedev, attended the event.
Mary and Kazakhstan's capital, Astana, were chosen as the first cultural capitals of the CIS after the grouping of former Soviet states approved the project in December.
Mary and the surrounding region are noted for playing a crucial role on the historical Silk Road.
The region has been listed by the United Nations' culture organization UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.
With reporting by ITAR-TASS