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Turkmen Report: August 17, 2004

17 August 2004
Turkmenistan's People's Council To Meet In October
The next meeting of Turkmenistan's Halk Maslihat, or People's Council, has been set for 23-24 October in Ashgabat, Interfax reported on 13 August, citing a decree by Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov.

The supreme representative and legislative body includes the president, parliamentary deputies, district representatives, the Supreme Court and Economic Court chairmen, the prosecutor-general, the Cabinet of Ministers, heads of regional administrations, and mayors of the cities that are also district centers. The council has the right to declare war, change borders, hold referendums, and amend the constitution.

The council is usually convened once a year but was held twice in 2002. The December emergency session was held in the wake of an alleged attack against Niyazov. Sessions are convened in one of the regional capitals. The council's decisions are mandatory for all executive agencies. Draft laws on land and taxes will be discussed at the next session. (Interfax)

Turkmenistan Bans Public Use Of Nos
Turkmen President Niyazov has banned the public use of nos, a traditional tobacco-based narcotic widespread in Central Asia, AP reported on 13 August.

A presidential order carried by the state-controlled Turkmen media says private consumption of nos will not be banned. But it says the sale of the mild narcotic will remain allowed in designated bazaars only. Citizens who do not comply with the order face a fine of four minimum monthly wages (about $45). Niyazov told a cabinet meeting on 12 August that nos causes tuberculosis and cancer. (AP)

Turkmen President Takes Stand Against Too Much Makeup
Saparmurat Niyazov, in a meeting broadcast on state television on 12 August, warned people not to wear too much makeup, Reuters and AP reported the same day.

Speaking on 11 August with figures from the media and art worlds, Niyazov said female presenters "wear too much whitening powder" and that male presenters often do the same. "This cannot be allowed," the president said. He said makeup should instead look natural. "Girls wear such light-colored makeup. It looks very pale. What do you need it for? The color of Turkmen [women's skin] is white. That is the natural look. Therefore, don't use so much makeup. You should be careful in that," Niyazov said.

Niyazov launched a campaign in February against men wearing beards or long hair. Last year he called on the country's girls to wear braids and traditional Turkmen hats, which female students are now required to wear. (Reuters, AP)

Turkmen Deputy Premier Loses Three Months' Pay For Tax Increase
Turkmen Deputy Prime Minister Dortkuli Aidogdyiev lost three months' pay for increasing the tax on business activities on his personal initiative, ITAR-TASS reported on 12 August.

President Niyazov at the meeting broadcast on national television on 11 August harshly criticized Aidogdyiev. Aidogdyiev's decision to sharply increase the tax imposed on entrepreneurs from 1 to 20 percent is just inadmissible because it affects ordinary people, Niyazov said.

The state will control everything concerning people's interests, the president stressed. (ITAR-TASS)

New Turkmen Interior Minister Appointed
Major General Geldimuhammet Ashirmuhammedov has been appointed Turkmen interior minister, Interfax reported on 12 August, citing the presidential administration.

Ashirmuhammedov replaced Ashir Ataev, who was relieved of his duties for health reasons, the administration said. Born in 1957, Ashirmuhammedov was most recently deputy interior minister. He has also served in the Defense Ministry and the presidential security service. (Interfax)

Niyazov Writes Another Volume Of 'Rukhnama'
President Niyazov said he has finished work on the second volume of "Rukhnama," a holy book of Turkmens, ITAR-TASS reported on 12 August.

Niyazov told reporters that the publication of another volume of "Rukhnama" will be one of the epochal events preceding the 27 October celebrations of the 13th anniversary of Turkmenistan's independence. The new book will be published on 12 September, in a month that has been named Rukhnama in the Turkmen calendar in honor of the Turkmen leaders' historical-philosophical work.

The edition of "Rukhnama" that was published in 2001 in the Turkmen language has become a spiritual code for the Turkmen nation. It is studied in school and institutes. Tests for knowledge of "Rukhnama" are mandatory at enterprises.

The book has been translated into 17 languages, in particular Russian, English, French, Japanese, Chinese, Urdu, and Arabic. (ITAR-TASS)