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Turkmen Media Deny Niyazov's Health Has Deteriorated

Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov (file photo) (ITAR-TASS) October 24, 2006 -- State-controlled media in Turkmenistan have denied reports that the health of President Saparmurat Niyazov has deteriorated.

The official TDH news agency on October 23 quoted Niyazov's German doctor, Hans Meisner, as saying the Turkmen president-for-life was "lively and full of energy" and that he was "feeling great."

Meisner reportedly made those remarks after examining Niyazov at the International Medical Center in Ashgabat, the Turkmen capital.

Niyazov publicly admitted on October 20 to having heart problems.

Addressing a world congress of Turkmen in Ashgabat, he said he couldn't fast during the holy Muslim month of Ramadan because he had to take medication prescribed to him after a heart ailment.

"Many of my deputies are fasting [during Ramadan]," he said. "Only I cannot fast because I'm taking tablets. After my heart disease [doctors] gave me medicine. Life itself has released me from fasting. So, don't blame me."

Niyazov's health is surrounded with the utmost secrecy in Turkmenistan. Twice this year, however, state-contolled media said he had to undergo medical checkups in Germany.

The Gundogar opposition website on October 20 claimed Niyazov had, the day before, inaugurated a factory in a golf cart "because he has great difficulties walking."

The report could not be independently confirmed.

(TDH,, Gundogar)

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