Saturday, August 27, 2016


Drive Any Car You Want, As Long As It's White

Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov has a penchant for white. (file photo)
Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov has a penchant for white. (file photo)

You can have whatever color car you want in Turkmenistan, as long as it is white.

The government has suspended imports of black, dark blue, and red automobiles, and are telling exporters to ship white cars instead, according to a customs' official who spoke to RFE/RL's Turkmen Service on condition of anonymity.

Existing cars may also be in line for a whitening treatment. A police officer told RFE/RL that police been ordered not to grant required yearly inspection certificates to those who drive cars with the banned colors, although a second police officer denied this.

Repainting a car costs between $800 and $1,000 in Turkmenistan, while the average monthly income is about $200 a month.

The color white has long been a feature of the carefully constructed personality cult of President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov. The former dentist has draped his capital Ashgabat in white marble, rides white stallions, and makes appearances dressed in white amid white carpets and white flower arrangements.

He likes white.

PHOTO GALLERY: Turkmenistan's 'White' Revolution

  • Keeping it clean: Berdymukhammedov gives presents to children during the opening ceremony of a new presidential palace in Ashgabat last year.
  • White is a highly respected color in traditionally nomadic countries like Turkmenistan, where the color is associated with milk, a key staple of the nomadic diet. Here, Berdymukhammedov, in the white shirt, visits a shepherd's yurt in Ruhabat.
  • Berdymukhammedov at a cabinet meeting. The Turkmen president is frequently shown against a foreground of white roses, and is even the subject of an adulatory poem entitled "White Roses."
  • Berdymukhammedov participating in a government video conference from his presidential office. Even the traditional Turkmen carpet, usually woven in a range of reds, has been adapted to reflect the president's predilection for white.

  • No Turkmen presidency is complete without a photo on a horse. Here, Berdymukhammedov is pictured astride a white Akhal-teke stallion. Other equestrian portraits up the ante by adding a white dove landing on the president's shoulder.
  • Turkmen newspapers published identical photographs of a white-suited Berdymukhammedov on the occasion of his birthday, June 29.
  • The first day of classes at School No. 55 in Ashgabat. Many parents in the Turkmen capital have received school requests asking to provide their children with all-white outfits for performances and other special occasions.
  • Berdymukhammedov's predecessor, Saparmurat Niyazov (left), favored white himself, both in architecture and -- for a while -- his own hair, which prompted a poet to dub him a "white-haired angel." Niyazov dyed his hair black soon afterward.
  • Young people carrying white balloons attend a 2011 inauguration ceremony for a public building recently erected in the Turkmen capital. The color white is frequently associated with cleanliness and good fortune in Central Asia.
  • Berdymukhammedov serving as master of ceremonies during the unveiling of a new palace in Ashgabat last year. If white has become the dominant color in Turkmen celebrations, the emerald green of the Turkmen flag still serves as a close runner-up.
  • Even in leisure time, white is the color of choice for the Turkmen president, shown here bicycling with black-clad minders. Berdymukhammedov is frequently seen wearing white sweaters and fleece jackets during casual public appearances.
  • The Turkmen president on holiday in the western Caspian Sea city of Turkmenbashi. Berdymukhammedov began his government career as a Health Ministry dentist. But he's since sought to build his own power base and shrug off Niyazov's legacy.
  • Berdymukhammedov has even performed pop songs in an attempt to build his own personality cult. Here, he plays an all-white guitar for a performance backed by singers dressed in white and playing white instruments.

But authorities say the president's fondness for white is not necessarily the reason for the new rules -- it's that the country's subtropical desert climate wreaks havoc with dark paint, creating an eyesore unbecoming of the autocratic republic. 

Calling himself the "protector," Berdymukhammedov, who has ruled Turkmenistan since 2006, has in the past frequently rewarded loyal government officials with fancy new cars. And he recently began using a convoy of white limousines to travel to public events. 

But he also supports more energy-efficient means of transport. 

He has been filmed bike-riding to encourage cycling (his white pants contrasting with the black garb of his cycling partners). 

And his fondness for horses is well known -- although sometimes they (at least the golden, Akhal-Teke, variety don't take quite so well to him. 

WATCH: President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov Falls Off His Horse


​-- RFE/RL's Turkmen Service, Glenn Kates

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: anonny from: anonnyland
January 31, 2015 16:42
A Turkmenistani White Supremacist?

Sure, why not. Jewish banker Igor Kolomoisky is backing Pravy Sektor in Ukraine, so what's off-limits anymore.
In Response

by: esteban from: Mexico
February 01, 2015 03:23
dumb putinbot.

Putin is a criminal. Thats why he wanted crimea and parts of the ukraine near the black sea to import drugs into russia. He is just granting it as a favor for his criminal and neo nazi friends (russia is full of neo nazis)
In Response

by: Will
February 03, 2015 09:44
Ukraine is literally run by ACTUAL Neo Nazi groups Right Sector and Svoboda. They even use Nazi insignia in their logos! Putin might be a criminal (as are ALL world leaders), but as least he isnt mass invading every country in the Middle East and drone-murdering innocent schoolchildren every day, or supplying Israel with weapons to commit genocide, like Obama.

by: Anonymous
January 31, 2015 18:38
Soon in the evening: next dish, A Horse)))

by: Anonymous from: Anonymousland
February 01, 2015 05:40
This IS weird, indeed!

by: Anonymous from: Anonymland
February 01, 2015 05:47
However, the new regulation is actually not about driving WHITE cars, instead, it is about not driving BLACK cars.

You are playing with the colors, for sure! Your concern is neither the people, nor the cars. But the colors...!

by: Anonymous from: Anonymland
February 01, 2015 07:25
At least, Turkmenistan is banning BLACK CARS. But at some point in the past it was BLACK PEOPLE how were banned in the US. It is better and humane to deal with BLACK CARS, rather than BLACK PEOPLE.
In Response

by: Smart from: Smartland
February 02, 2015 14:46
The President of the USA is black, didn't you know?
In Response

by: Smarter from: Smarterland
February 03, 2015 08:55
If you pay attention, you would get my point as I hihglighted: "at some point in the past..." (It means "not now")
In Response

by: Smarter from: Smarterland
February 03, 2015 08:58
If you read carefully, you would get my point as I highlighted: "at some point in the past...". It means "not now".

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