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Turkmen Report: July 8, 2003

8 July 2003
No College For Turkmen Grads Until They Work Two Years
5 July 2003

Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov has decreed that all students who have completed high school must work for two years before they can attend college, ITAR-TASS reported on 5 July.

Niyazov made the announcement on 4 July during a session of the Cabinet of Ministers. Niyazov said there were not enough "honest people" currently in the country's workforce who loved their professions. Niyazov said that "immediately after school young people should start working in the profession they have chosen and the quality of their work there will become a key basis for entry into institutes of higher learning." Niyazov said the two years of work would show if young people are qualified for their chosen profession.

Niyazov said the move would not affect enrollment and as proof pointed out that some 4,000 students had enrolled at universities in the country this year. There are about 4.5 million people in Turkmenistan. (ITAR-TASS)

Russian Human Rights Commissioner Promises To Help Russians In Turkmenistan
2 July 2003

Russian Human Rights Ombudsman Oleg Mironov has met with Russian citizens from Turkmenistan to discuss the situation in the country after Turkmen authorities unilaterally revoked dual Turkmen-Russian citizenship as of 22 June, Interfax reported on 2 July, quoting Mironov's press service. According to the report, Mironov promised to help ater hearing that Russians who had retained their Russian citizenship and who wanted to move to Russia were being forced to sell their homes in Turkmenistan for such low prices that it was impossible for them to buy homes in Russia. Mironov's interlocutors reportedly said that psychological and physical pressure is being exerted on Russian citizens to leave Turkmenistan. (Interfax)

Ashgabat Mayor Bans All Domestic Animals Except Dogs, Cats, And Birds
1 July 2003

Ashgabat Mayor (Hyakim) Amangeldy Rejepov has issued a decree forbidding residents of Ashgabat from keeping any domestic animals other than dogs, cats, and birds within city limits, RIA-Novosti reported on 1 July. The official explanation for the decree is that in recent years a number of villages have been incorporated into Ashgabat. The villagers traditionally kept sheep, goats, cattle, camels, and poultry, and they have continued to do so after their homes become part of the capital. In fact, chickens are kept in the courtyards of homes throughout the city, and many people earn money by selling eggs in the city markets. Others believe that keeping their own chickens is an effective measure against salmonella. Other livestock is also common in residential areas outside the center. Although Rejepov's decree exempts dogs and cats, municipal authorities organize periodic campaigns of shooting "stray" dogs and cats in residential areas. (RIA-Novosti)

Russian Deputies, Turkmen Diplomat Discuss Dual Citizenship
28 June 2003

Senior Russian parliamentary deputies met the Turkmen ambassador in Moscow on 28 June to consider the problems of Russian nationals living in Turkmenistan, Interfax reported the same day.

The ultimate reason for the meeting was a Russian-Turkmen agreement to abolish dual Russian-Turkmen citizenship, after which the Turkmen leadership has been trying to pressure dual citizens living in Turkmenistan into renouncing their Russian nationality.

"A range of issues relating to the exacerbation of the problem of dual citizenship of those living in Turkmenistan received preliminary consideration," Sergei Apatenko, deputy head of the State Duma Committee on the Commonwealth of Independent States, said in comments on the meeting with Ambassador Khalnazar Agakhanov.

Apatenko said the media frequently accused Turkmenistan of "persecution" against Russian-Turkmen citizens who wish to keep their Russian passports. Some of those people have reportedly been evicted from their apartments. Apatenko denied the existence of any specific evidence of such evictions but promised to "deal with this matter seriously" during a planned visit to Turkmenistan.

"The Turkmen ambassador, in effect, made it clear that [one] of the reasons for the current exacerbation of the citizenship issue [is] that people who are officially Turkmen citizens but don't pay taxes in their country are taking shelter on the territory of the Russian Federation," the deputy said. Moreover, "the Turkmen side allegedly knows of instances of the illegal issue of Russian passports by our consulates." (Interfax)

Afghan, Pakistani, Turkmen Officials Approve Pipeline Route
27 June 2003

Turkmenistan's energy minister, Tachberdyi Tagiev, said Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, and Pakistan have agreed on the route for a trans-Afghan natural gas pipeline, AP reported on 27 June.

Tagiev said the pipeline's steering committee decided at a meeting in Ashgabat that the 1,650-kilometer-long line should travel through Herat and Kandahar in Afghanistan, and to the Pakistani cities of Quetta and Multan. The Asian Development Bank, which is sponsoring feasibility studies on the project, has instead backed a northern route through the Afghan cities of Shibergan and the capital Kabul, as well as through the Pakistani capital Islamabad and Lahore.

Afghan and Pakistani representatives are said to have rejected this route because it would take the pipeline over Afghanistan's mountains. The pipeline would tap natural gas deposits in Turkmenistan. Turkmen officials have said they hope that construction of the pipeline will start next year. (AP)

Russian Embassy Checking Reports Of Turkmen Authorities Evicting Russians
27 June 2003

The Russian Embassy in Ashgabat is checking media reports that Turkmen authorities have started evicting people who have dual citizenship from their apartments, Interfax reported on 27 June, citing an official in the Russian Foreign Ministry's Information and Press Department. Turkmen President Niyazov issued a decree under which people with dual citizenship had until 22 June to choose between Russian or Turkmen citizenship. The decree followed the signing of a Russian-Turkmen protocol abrogating the bilateral agreement on issues of dual citizenship. Russia has called on Turkmenistan to refrain from taking unilateral action. It argues that the agreement will remain in effect until the protocol has been ratified. Furthermore, the dual citizenship agreement is not retroactive, so people who had dual citizenship while the agreement was in force will retain it, Moscow said. (Interfax)