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Turkmen Report: September 21, 2004

21 September 2004
Turkmenistan To Free Some 9,000 Prisoners
Turkmenistan will free some 9,000 people under an amnesty to be granted this November, reported on 17 September, citing the presidential press service.

President Saparmurat Niyazov made the announcement on 16 September during a meeting with top officials of the republic's Interior Ministry. According to Niyazov clemency will be granted only to those who committed minor offences and have fully repented. Niyazov demanded that the Interior Ministry's leadership take the preparation of the amnesty very seriously.

CIS Summit Focuses On Terrorism
President Niyazov did not attend the 16 September CIS summit in Astana, Kazakhstan, which focused on antiterrorism efforts in the wake of recent attacks in Russia, ITAR-TASS reported.

The heads of the CIS member states attending the summit expressed their full solidarity with the Russian Federation in its battle against terrorism and agreed to step up the activities of the CIS Antiterrorism Center.

The summits elected Russian President Vladimir Putin to replace his Ukrainian counterpart Leonid Kuchma as CIS chairman. The next summit will take place in Minsk, Belarus, in September 2005.

NATO Names Special Envoy For Central Asia And Caucasus
NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer has appointed a U.S. diplomat, Robert Simmons, as his special representative for the Caucasus and Central Asia, RFE/RL and reported on 15 September.

Simmons will retain his current position as deputy assistant secretary-general for political affairs and security policy. His primary task as envoy to the Caucasus and Central Asia will be to establish high-level working contacts with regional leaders to support NATO's objectives, and to offer advice on enhancing the individual states' cooperation with NATO within the framework of the Partnership for Peace program. Simmons told RFE/RL that he will also focus on military reform and will "consult" with the eight countries on issues of concern. He stressed in that context that such consultations do not imply a NATO commitment to defend the countries involved.

Niyazov Stays Healthy
President Niyazov was the first patient at a new diagnostic center in Ashgabat, undergoing a routine medical examination on its opening day on 12 September, Interfax reported on 14 September, citing the presidential press service.

A team of six doctors headed by German heart surgeon Hans Meisner carried out Niyazov's examination.

The press service quoted the doctors as saying that Niyazov is in good physical shape. The doctors attribute this to the fact that Niyazov quit smoking a few years ago and also to the exercise program he strictly follows.

Meisner performed heart surgery on Niyazov in September 1997 and has examined him two or three times a year ever since. (Interfax)

Turkmen Delegation Attends ECO Meeting
A Turkmen government delegation attended a meeting of the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) held in the Tajik capital Dushanbe on 14 September, RIA-Novosti reported.

ECO member states Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan discussed issues related to further increasing of cooperation between regional countries in the spheres of trade, transport, and energy. (RIA-Novosti)

Second Volume Of Niyazov's Book Published
The second volume of President Saparmurat Niyazov's book, required reading for every Turkmen citizen, was released on 12 September at a ceremony in the capital Ashgabat, AP reported.

The first volume of Niyazov's "Rukhnama," or "Book of Spirit," gives Niyazov's interpretation of Turkmenistan's history. The second volume focuses on family values and patriotism.

Schoolchildren are required to study "Rukhnama" and adults are expected to read it for the sake of their spiritual and cultural development.

Niyazov, also known as Turkmenbashi or "the Father of All Turkmen," has developed a vast personality cult since he took power in 1985.

On 11 September Turkmenistan's official media reported that the parliament had renamed the country's highest mountain the "Peak of Turkmenbashi the Great."