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Turkmen Report: September 17, 2002

17 September 2002
Turkmen Dissident In Danger Of Repatriation
13 September 2002

New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) on 13 September warned that Kazakh authorities are preparing to repatriate a former Turkmen political prisoner who could be at grave risk in his home country, RFE/RL reported the same day. HRW said in a statement that it learned from diplomatic sources that the Kazakh government planned to deport Gulgeldi Annaniyazov on 15 September. Forty-two-year-old Annaniyazov was sentenced to 15 years in jail in 1995 for helping to organize an opposition rally in the Turkmen capital, Ashgabat. He was released in 1999 under international pressure. Last month, Annaniyazov illegally left Turkmenistan for neighboring Kazakhstan before traveling on to Moscow on 1 September. Arrested upon his arrival, he was sent back to Kazakhstan the following day despite a request for political asylum in Russia. (RFE/RL)

11 September Anniversary Marked In Turkmenistan
11 September 2002

Residents of Ashgabat displayed their sympathy with the friends and relatives of those who died in the 11 September attacks in the United States and expressed solidarity with the international coalition against terrorism, reported on 12 September.

Residents of the Turkmen capital thronged to the U.S. Embassy to pay their respects, leaving flowers and writing their names in a memorable book throughout the day of 11 September. An official commemoration ceremony was held on embassy grounds and was attended by senior state officials along with representatives of public organizations in Turkmenistan and foreign diplomatic missions. (

National Security Ministry Established In Turkmenistan
11 September 2002

Turkmenistan's National Security Committee has been reorganized into a ministry under a decree issued by President Saparmurat Niyazov and published on 11 September, Interfax reported the same day.

Addressing law-enforcement officials on 10 September, Niyazov outlined the new ministry's main tasks, including protecting the rights of citizens and ensuring state and public security. The ministry must "reveal large antisocial and antistate groups and apply legal sanctions against them in order to prevent their activities," Niyazov said.

He also said the National Security Ministry will combat the illegal sale of drugs and economic crimes, and control the security of Turkmenistan's borders and the movements of foreign nationals in the republic.

Colonel Batyr Busakov was appointed national security minister. Busakov was a longtime deputy chief of the presidential security service and then briefly held the post of deputy interior minister. (Interfax)

Niyazov Rehabilitates Five Victims Of Turkmen Special Services
11 September 2002

President Niyazov has signed a decree on the posthumous rehabilitation of five victims of alleged crimes by the former leadership of the National Security Committee or its subordinates, RIA-Novosti and Interfax reported on 11 September.

The Turkmen government reported that a state commission of inquiry into such crimes has "revealed acts of arbitrariness such as the unlawful arrest of innocent people, use of violence, torture, and...[murder] against them."

"They were tortured and killed by National Security Committee officers. The children of these individuals should know today that they were innocent," Niyazov said told national radio.

Turkmen media published a list of the five rehabilitated -- Annanabat Allaberdyev, 31; Tachnazar Gurbanov, 63; Khoudainazar Gulmammedov, 42; Myratgakhryman Mukhammetniyazov, 38; and Abdulla Shamirov, 32. (RIA-Novosti, Interfax)

EBRD Aims To Help Improve Turkmenistan's Investment Climate
11 September 2002

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) Board of Directors has adopted a new two-year strategy for Turkmenistan, Interfax reported on 11 September, citing a bank press release. According to the strategy, "with no noticeable progress on economic and political reforms, the EBRD will focus future investments on private-sector entities" and will start "dialogue with the government and with civil society on ways to improve the investment climate for private entrepreneurs."

"The country maintains a dual exchange rate regime and the bank's SME [small and medium-sized enterprises] program continues to suffer from limited access to currency conversion," the press release said.

"Turkmenistan failed to make progress towards the development of a free media and improvement in the dialogue with NGOs, the protection of national minorities' rights and the removal of travel restrictions," the document added. "The EBRD would increase its involvement in Turkmenistan once the government had demonstrated its commitment to reform and transition." (Interfax)

Head Of Turkmen Stockbreeding Association Fired, Targeted In Property Probe
11 September 2002

The head of a state-owned animal-husbandry association in Turkmenistan has been accused of illegally owning 2,000 sheep, 26 camels, and two Japanese-made cars along with stealing a large amount of cash, AFP reported on 11 September. Local reports said the official -- Nurmurad Atayev -- was accused of stealing 2,000 million manat and "illegally owning" the animals and vehicles. The reports said President Niyazov fired the official and has asked investigators to look into the matter. (AFP)

Niyazov Approves Projects To Modernize Oil And Gas Refineries
12 September 2002

President Niyazov has approved investment projects for the comprehensive modernization and major technological overhaul of a group of oil refineries in Turkmenbashi, Interfax reported on 12 September. A total of $69 million will be put into the Turkmenbashi Petroleum Refinery Complex in line with the projects.

The government of Turkmenistan has also approved an investment project to intensify gas production at the Shatlyk gas field, worth an estimated $44 million. (Interfax)

Caspian Group To Meet In November
10 September 2002

A regular meeting of a working group on the Caspian at the level of deputy foreign ministers has been scheduled for November, Andrei Urnov, the head of the Russian Foreign Ministry's working group for the Caspian, announced on 10 September, ITAR-TASS reported the same day. Representatives of Russia, Iran, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, and Kazakhstan will gather in the Azerbaijani capital, Baku, to continue the debate on the future status of the Caspian Sea and access to its resources. Urnov said much attention will be given to the drafting of a convention on Caspian legal status. (ITAR-TASS)