ASHGABAT -- Former Turkmen Culture and Tourism Minister Geldimurat Nurmuhammedov, 59, is under pressure after talking to RFE/RL last week.
Nurmuhammedov told RFE/RL's Turkmen Service the government shut down a construction company owned by members of his family on December 15.
On December 8, Nurmuhammedov gave an interview to RFE/RL in which he expressed his concerns over the presidential election scheduled for February 12, 2012.
Nurmuhammedov, who served as culture minister from 1992 to 1995 when he was also a parliament deputy, said in that interview that people are not enthusiastic about the upcoming election because incumbent President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov's Democratic Party of Turkmenistan -- the country's only legally registered political party -- is a "tool used for deception during elections."
Nurmuhammedov claimed the Turkmen parliament, the Mejlis, plays no role in national politics. He harshly criticized the current Turkmen leadership for continuing the policies launched by deceased President Saparmurat Niyazov, who, as Nurmuhammedov put it, "buried such concepts as human rights, democracy, and fair elections."
Nurmuhammedov told RFE/RL that after that interview, his relatives were notified by national security, finance, and tax officials that their construction company's premises have been sealed in line with a "decision by higher authorities." No further explanation was given.
Nurmuhammedov said the family-owned construction company's office in Ashgabat and its warehouse on the outskirts of the capital have indeed been sealed. He also told RFE/RL his elder brother Berdimurat, a co-owner of the company, was summoned to the National Security Ministry.
Nurmuhammedov served in 1992 as chairman of the Education, Science, and Culture Committee of the Presidential Council before he was appointed a cabinet minister.