Friday, August 26, 2016


Silly Dictator Story #4: Celebrations Everywhere For Turkmenistan's 'Protector'

Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov: Galloping through the Era of Supreme Happiness
Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov: Galloping through the Era of Supreme Happiness
Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov may oversee one of the world’s most repressive security states, but the Turkmen president -- commonly referred to in official circles as "arkadag" (protector) -- knows how to throw a party.

Not one to shy away from ostentatious public celebrations of his accomplishments, Berdymukhammedov turns 55 on June 29 and will have a series of commemorations in his honor performed throughout the day.

WATCH: Homage to the Protector of the Era of Supreme Happiness (Turkmen state TV)
Turkmenistan Celebrates President's Birthdayi
|| 0:00:00
June 29, 2012
Footage from Turkmen state television shows large-scale celebrations in the capital, Ashgabat, on June 29, the 55th birthday of President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov. (Note: low video resolution)

The day is still early, so it’s possible that Berdymukhammedov could out-do a previous performance, where he took to the stage and dazzled the crowd with a song.

WATCH: Berdymukhammedov croons

From where he sits, it has been a pretty good year for the Turkmen president. In mid-February, Berdymukhammedov was reelected to a second five-year term with a staggering -- some would say unbelievable -- 97 percent of the vote. No Western observers were present for the poll, the head of the Commonwealth of Independent States delegation reported no irregularities, and the president was serenaded by adoring passersby and polling-station workers as he cast his ballot.

His reelection ushered in the “Era of Supreme Happiness” in Turkmenistan, thus ending the “Great Era of Rebirth” -- the moniker given to Berdymukhammedov’s first term in office.

Just a few weeks ago, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India signed a long-awaited deal on a 1,735-kilometer natural-gas pipeline that is expected to generate a handsome return for gas-rich Turkmenistan. Already a gas powerhouse, in October 2011 an auditing firm found that the country’s South Iolotan field has between 13 trillion and 21 trillion cubic meters of gas, nearly double original estimates.

Turkmenistan’s gas wealth has allowed the government to be unflinchingly heavy-handed in the way it controls media and information in the country. Turkmenistan ranks just above North Korea and Somalia in Reporters Without Borders’ 2012 Press Freedom Index and scores equally bad in nearly every other major study of such things.

In 2011, RFE/RL correspondent Dovletmyrat Yazkuliyev was arrested, tried, and convicted of "influencing or abetting an attempted suicide by a family member.” The charge masked what most observers agree was official retribution for his reporting for RFE/RL’s Turkmen Service on a deadly blast at an arms depot in the city of Abadan.

Turkmenistan state TV, under strict control of the ruling party, has been reporting on Berdymukhammedov’s birthday wishes from other heads of state including Belarus’s Alyaksandr Lukashenka, Uzbekistan’s Islam Karimov, and Ukraine’s Viktor Yanukovych. The celebration is a national one, with creatively named events taking place across the sparsely populated country.

In the eastern province of Lebap, visitors can head to the Seyitnazar Syidi Theater to see a performance of "The Heart of the Protector Beats for his People." If you’re in the capital, Ashgabat, you can take in “Protector, Let Your Path be Glorious” at the Magtymguly Theater, or maybe "Era of Supreme Happiness and Stable State Brought Glory to the State with Protector" at the Pushkin is more your style.

-- Zach Peterson and Muhammad Tahir

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This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: Eugenio from: Vienna
June 29, 2012 15:59
Congratulations to Comerade Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov. His heroic strength make benefit the glorious nation of Turkmenistan.
In Response

by: Dan from: Washington DC
June 29, 2012 17:59
In Response

by: Serdar Turkmen from: Istanbul
June 29, 2012 18:42
Salowmaleykim man! Is he hero? For what? For making people live under fear? For turning the country into the private family business? Which glorious nation are you talking about? What heroic strength are you trying to prove? You do not have to be a science rocket analytic to see the facts and accept arguments! (If you are a Turkmen secret police MHM agent, I am sorry, I did not mean it, do not touch my family please! Ok man? I respect you mighty power man! I respect your animals farm!)
In Response

by: Cohen from: Uk
June 29, 2012 20:02
You made a good point Eugenio, it rings something into my ear, i have touched upon this man in my last work, I think he needs greater attention, let me finish with Mid-Eastern part of my job, then I will say hello to this fellow, I guess he got enough mess to be highlight, Hahaha, this is how I would respond if I was Sacha Baron Cohen
In Response

by: Cohen
June 30, 2012 05:09
Oh boy, too many things to do, let me finish with mid-eastern fellows, then I will surly pay greater attention to this man, although I have touched upon him in my latest master piece, but I think he deserves more care. If I were Sacha Baron Cohen, this would be my response to this story.
In Response

by: Eugenio from: Vienna
July 01, 2012 06:19
Dear Dan, Serdar and Cohen! I would like to distance myself from the comment on Gurbanguly made above in my name by Konstantin from LA.
I personally do not have any idea about his policies, of how beneficial or not they are to the glorious people of Turkmenistan - so no comment from my part on his "heroic strength".
The only thing I can tell you, fellows, is that here in Vienna it is going to be just as hot today as it must be in Turkmenistan right now: 33 degrees at 11 a.m. and up to 37 during the day!!! I already fell like I am in the Owadan depe prison in Karakum :-)))).
In Response

by: William from: Aragon
July 03, 2012 06:24
Hey Eugenio, enjoy the summer blast - winter will be there soon enough and you will be chilled to the bone! Our summer's days here are often 37 degrees. It's the one or two heat-waves of several days above 40 degrees each summer that gets to me, but then it cools back down to a more comfortable 37 degrees!

by: Garadamakly from: TM
June 29, 2012 19:07
I wish it were his 155th birthday
In Response

by: Jack from: US
June 29, 2012 21:32
may he live forever. Otherwise NATO minions will be robbing the riches of Turkmenistan like they are robbing Azeristan, Kurdistan, Afghanistan, and all other ***stans
In Response

by: Garadamakly from: TM
June 30, 2012 10:53
You are not authorized to speak on behalf of Turkmens dude. The riches of Turkmenistan has been robbed by official clans and Putinists for two decades now. Just look and learn about ITERA gas company and have fun! But no one would dare to speak about it. That is why many Turkmens hate Russia now. But many of them cannot talk about it.

I wish Arkadag and you together lived together forever in the Owadan depe prison in Karakum. Then you would understand (if you are a human being) what it means to leave under repression.
In Response

by: Derek from: FR, Pari
July 01, 2012 20:17
The country is named Azerbaijan and its located on the OTHER side of the Caspian Sea. Read a book.

by: Anonymous
June 29, 2012 21:52
some people in this world are undoubtedly insolent and shameless.

by: Alex from: LA
July 01, 2012 08:28
Party like Dictator! Party like a Sultan! Party like Muammar Gaddafi!

by: Anonymous
July 01, 2012 16:43
Shame on you, PresiDentist!

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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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