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Turkmen Report: November 20, 2002

20 November 2002
Turkmen president sacks officials after poor cotton harvest

16 November 2002

President Saparmurat Niyazov has sacked a deputy prime minister and agriculture minister after a poor cotton harvest, AFP reported on 16 November, citing the Turkmen press.

The official "Neitralnyi Turkmenistan" newspaper said that Niyazov sacked Deputy Prime Minister for agricultural issues Redjep Saparov and Agriculture Minister Rustam Artykov, together with four regional leaders.

The dismissals came after Turkmenistan harvested only 500,000 tons of cotton -- or 25 percent of the state's harvest target for this year.

Turkmenistan suffered an unusually wet spring, which experts say is likely to have affected the cotton crop. But Niyazov also blamed the "lack of responsibility, unprofessionalism, incompetence, and dishonesty of leaders in the center and in the regions," for the failure, the newspaper reported. (AFP)

Turkmen Budget Emphasizes Social Needs

14 November 2002

Turkmenistan's draft budget for 2003, due to be passed by the parliament in two weeks, amounts to 52 trillion manats ($10 billion), of which 70 percent is earmarked for social welfare, Interfax reported on 14 November.

This includes a plan to double salaries in the country in February. Next year's projected revenue of 51.5 trillion manats comes primarily from oil-and-gas earnings.

In order to save money, the government recently decided to employ 65,000 soldiers in various spheres of the economy, especially construction, health care, and agriculture. (Interfax)

Over 300,000 Foreigners Visit Turkmenistan In 2002

14 November 2002

Some 320,000 foreigners, among them 8,000 tourists, visited Turkmenistan from January-September 2002, Interfax reported on 14 November. This is 70 percent more people than last year, the Turkmenmillikhasabat National Institute of State Statistics and Information said.

Citizens of 56 countries, mostly Iran, Germany, Italy, France, Great Britain, the Netherlands, the United States, Turkey, and Japan, bought tourist vouchers to Turkmenistan. Most of the CIS tourists came from Russia and Uzbekistan.

The report said that 69 percent of the foreign tourists who visited the country named "sightseeing as the reason for their visit on their customs declarations."

Turkmen citizens prefer tourism to other sorts of relaxation. About 72,000 Turkmen citizens made trips abroad from January-September 2002. The most popular destinations were Iran, Russia, the United Arab Emirates, and China. Tourism proceeds amounted to 41.4 billion manats ($8 million). Ninety percent of that amount came from services purchased by Turkmen citizens on their trips abroad. (Interfax)

Turkmen Banks Told To Close Hard-Currency Accounts

14 November 2002

President Niyazov on 14 November announced that the foreign currency of all banks in the country will be concentrated in the National Bank of Turkmenistan, Interfax reported the next day, citing an official from the presidential office. The pertinent document is due to be signed in the next few days.

Niyazov announced his decision at an expanded government session on working to improve monetary turnover and the work of national banks. "In part the activities of banks go against common state interests," he said. "Almost all have their own accounts in foreign banks, despite the earlier resolution. This means that significant financial capacity is taken out of turnover and does not bring the state any dividends."

The president signed a resolution in October 2002 instructing all commercial banks to close correspondent accounts in foreign banks and make international payments in foreign currency through the correspondent network of the central bank or the state bank for foreign economic affairs. (Interfax)

New Parliament Speaker, Committee Heads Named

12 November 2002

Acting on the recommendation of President Niyazov, parliament deputies on 12 November elected as the new speaker of the legislature Supreme Court Chairman Ovezgeldy Ataev, Interfax and reported.

Ataev replaces Tagandurdy Khallyev, who retired from the post of speaker but will retain his deputy's mandate. Gozel Nuralieva, who is editor of the official Russian-language newspaper "Neitralnyi Turkmenistan," was elected deputy speaker.

In addition, new chairpersons were named for the parliament committees on Economy and Social Policy (former Foreign Ministry official Boris Mikhailov); Science, Education, and Culture (Kakabay Ilyasov, editor of the newspaper "Turkmenistan"); International and Interparliamentary Ties (parliament deputy Akcha Nurberdieva); and Legislation (Murad Karryev, former head of the law-enforcement-bodies department of the presidential administration). (Interfax,

Construction Of Liquid-Gas-Production Plant Completed

11 November 2002

Construction of a liquid-gas-production plant was completed in Turkmenistan, reported on 11 November. The modern plant in Naip cost $25 million and was built by Turkmen and Canadian specialists in less than a year.

The technology of producing of liquid gas used by the Canadian Thermodesign Engineering Company, which is the most effective worldwide, will be used at the plant. The complex will process 9 million cubic meters of gas per day, producing 65,000 tons of liquid gas a year, which is in strong demand on the world market. (

Turkmen-Language Koran Released In Kyrgyzstan

4 November 2002

The Holy Koran in the Turkmen language was presented at a ceremony on 4 November in Bishkek, the Kyrgyz new agency Kabar reported.

The event was organized and held by a Kyrgyz parliamentary subcommittee for religion and a public association for protection of religious freedom. According to a report by the Kyrgyz parliamentary press service, the presentation was attended by members of parliament; plus representatives of the State Commission on Religious Affairs; the Muftiyat (the Muslim Board) of Kyrgyzstan; diplomatic missions accredited in Kyrgyzstan, including those from Iran, Pakistan, Turkey, and Uzbekistan; the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the Soros Kyrgyzstan Foundation; and other nongovernmental and religious organizations.

In Turkmenistan itself the translation of the Koran into the state language is prohibited. At the beginning of 2000, under a special decree by President Niyazov, a total of 40,000 copies of the Koran in Turkmen were withdrawn from storehouses and burnt, which caused wide alarm in the Muslim world. The author of the translation, Turkmen religious figure Hodjaahmet Ahun, and his family were subjected to brutal repression.

In addition, under Niyazov's decree local authorities destroyed the mosque that Ahun had built and turned into an Islamic high school. (Kabar)

Population Of Turkmenistan Approaches 6 Million

1 November 2002

As of 1 November, the Turkmen population numbered 5.873 million, reported, citing the State Service of Statistics and Information. Over 54 percent of the population continues to be rural, with the remaining 46 percent in the cities. (