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Turkmenistan: Advertisement Portrays Stable Country With Popular Leader

Washington, 23 April 1998 (RFE/RL) -- A leading U.S. news magazine published an eight-page special advertising section in its latest edition, portraying Turkmenistan as a stable and energy-rich country headed by a popular leader.

The advertising in Time magazine coincided with this week's visit to the United States of Turkmenistan's President Saparmurat Niyazov. The ad was produced by International Media Corporation (IMC), a New York City agency.

Time magazine declined to say how much it charged to run the full-color supplement and whether it was paid by the Turkmenistani government or Turkmen businessmen. Efforts to contact IMC were unsuccessful.

The advertisement begins with a full-page color photograph of Niyazov and is titled "Turkmenistan: Central Asia's Stable State."

It says Niyazov "is the hugely popular president of Turkmenistan, the man who his citizens call Turkmenbashi - 'head of all Turkmen.'"

The special supplement did not mention the country's human rights record, which is widely viewed by critics as poor. Indeed, Niyazov himself has stated that full democracy can come to the central Asian nation only after its economic independence and stability are assured.

Niyazov also has dismissed political opponents to his regime as troublemakers and even drug addicts.

But during a conference this week, Niyazov indicated he is committed to eventual democracy. He promised to scale back the power of the executive branch of the government, in favor of parliament, following parliamentary elections to be held next year.

The Time advertisement says: "Strategically located on the East-West trade corridor, Turkmenistan is set to realize its full economic potential based on huge reserves of oil and natural gas."

It says that Niyazov is "seeking greater cooperation with the West, while at the same time ensuring that his country is not distanced from Asia or the Middle East."

Turkmenistan wishes to maintain a neutral stance, the advertisement says, "combined with the certain knowledge that shifting global economics will eventually tip in Turkmenistan's favor because of its huge energy resources."

It compared Turkmenistan with Kuwait because of the nation's energy resources and with Switzerland for its policy of permanent neutrality.