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Turkmen Report: May 24, 2004

24 May 2004
Turkmenistan Removing Omnipresent Presidential Portraits
21 May 2004

Officials in Turkmenistan's capital Ashgabat are clearing portraits of the country's absolutist President Saparmurat Niyazov from public display, RFE/RL's Turkmen Service and AFP reported on 21 May.

Early on 21 May, Niyazov's portraits were removed in much of central Ashgabat and a bronze statue of the president was removed from in front of the country's Interior Ministry headquarters. A spokesman for Ashgabat's mayor's office said that Niyazov's portraits were being replaced with posters on political themes. No public explanation has been offered for the decision.

Niyazov was Turkmenistan's last Soviet-era leader and was declared president for life in 1999. Until now, his portraits had been virtually everywhere. (RFE/RL, AFP)

New Head Of Turkmen Border Service Appointed
19 May 2004

President Niyazov has appointed Orazberdy Soltanov as head of the border service, Interfax reported on 19 May, citing a source in the Turkmen presidential administration.

The previous head of the border service, Colonel Annanur Atajanov, asked to be dismissed for health reasons. His request was granted, but he has retained the post of deputy staff manager of the border service.

Soltanov, 46, graduated from the Tashkent Institute of Rail Transport Engineers. From 1974 to 1993, he occupied various posts at Kelyata station of the Trans-Asian railroad. From 1993, he served in the border service. (Interfax)

Turkmenistan Marks Day Of Revival, Unity, And Poetry Of Makhtumkuli
18 May 2004

On 18 May, most of Turkmenistan celebrated one of the country's main holidays, the Day of Revival, Unity, and Poetry of Makhtumkuli, reported the same day.

The Turkmen Constitution was adopted on that day 12 years ago, which declared Turkmenistan a legal, secular, and democratic state. This day was marked as the Day of Revival and Unity until 18 May 1999.

Starting in 2000, the holiday was combined with Makhtumkuli's Poetry Day by decree of President Niyazov, which was marked on 18 May, thus emerging under its present name. Makhtumkuli Pyragy is a classic of Turkmen literature of the 18th century that poeticized the best human qualities and, furthermore, voiced the dream of Turkmens about independence. (

Turkmenistan To Reconstruct Sector Of Gas Pipeline
18 May 2004

Turkmenistan will reconstruct its sector of the Central Asia-Center gas pipeline, which also goes through Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Russia, and Ukraine, ITAR-TASS reported on 18 May. President Niyazov signed an ordinance to that effect on 17 May.

The Turkmen Ministry of Oil, Gas, and Mineral Resources says that the Turkmen sector of the gas pipeline has become corroded and flooded near the Deryalyk and Dostluk drain collectors. Five lines of the gas pipeline will be raised above a 650-meter-wide drainage lake. The estimated cost of the project $35.6 million. A consortium of Ukraine's Ukrgazpromstroi and Liechtenstein's Caspo Pipeline Service will repair the pipeline.

The project will be completed by 2006 and the capacity of the Turkmen sector of the gas pipeline will approach 100 billion cubic meters per year, the ministry said. This year, Turkmenistan will export no more that 45 billion cubic meters of gas through the pipeline. (ITAR-TASS)

Turkmenistan Reacts To Criticism Over Russian Theater In Ashgabat
14 May 2004

Turkmenistan's Foreign Ministry has come out with explanations of the fate of the Aleksandr Pushkin Russian theater in Ashgabat, which has the only Russian-speaking theatrical company in this country, ITAR-TASS reported on 14 May.

"The Aleksandr Pushkin theater was housed in an old, tumbledown building, which construction experts said could not function any longer," the Foreign Ministry said in an official note. "In light of this, the authorities offered the company to move to another building, the floor space of which is even bigger than the old one," said the note. "The other facility was recently fully repaired and redecorated."

The Turkmen government is currently financing the work of installing all the required stage equipment there and improve the area around it.

The Foreign Ministry said the opinion that the president of Russia's Theatrical Union, Aleksandr Kalyagin, had voiced on the fate of the Russian theater in Ashgabat was highly regrettable. "It stands in marked contrast to the high level of relations between Turkmenistan and Russia."

The Russian theater building, commissioned in 1951, was located in downtown Ashgabat opposite the contemporary Grand Turkmen Hotel. President Niyazov made public a decision to pull it down in early February right on the eve of the date of Aleksandr Pushkin's death. The building was removed in the second half of March. The theatrical company was then told to move to a building on the outskirts that had been used as a club of the Ashgabat silk factory. In mid-April, President Niyazov signed a decree to build a fountain worth $450,000 on the site of the former theater. (ITAR-TASS)