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Turkmen Leader Sacks Two Deputy Prime Ministers

7 January 2004 -- Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov has sacked two deputy prime ministers for allegedly embezzling or mismanaging funds.

Niyazov demoted Rejepdury Atayev, the construction minister, and Begench Atamuradov, the agriculture minister. The two will stay at their respective ministries for a three-month probation period.

"Begench [Atamuradov], you are free from your position as a deputy [prime minister]. Stay with the ministry, and that's only for three months, just like [Rejepdurdy] Atayev. If you give me results, you will work there, otherwise I don't need useless people. You have to take care of the land. You don't even know your duties," Niyazov told state television.

Niyazov has ordered Atayev to pay back some $6 million dollars that he allegedly acquired through illegal bank loans. Atayev quickly promised to repay the money.

Dismissals and reshufflings of government posts are a common feature of Turkmenistan's political scene.