Ashgabat, 22 April 1997 (RFE/RL) - Coinciding with the just-completed Muslim "Day of Sacrifice," Turkmenistan has officially opened its new, opulent Presidential Palace. The cost of the palace has been reported at $ 120 million.
The houses and apartments of hundreds of people were demolished in order to make way for construction of the palace in central Ashgabat, and to give visitors an unobstructed view. The nearby home of a top Turkmen actress, Maya Aymedova, was ordered demolished.
Observers have noted the authoritarian, personality cult-style of Turkmenistan's President Sararmurad Niyazov, and his investment of the country's wealth in luxurious hotels, casinos and other facilities, which few people visit.