Accessibility links

Breaking News

Turkmen Report: November 30, 2001

30 November 2001
Turkmen President Shows Up At CIS Summit In Moscow, Misses Final Meeting

30 November 2001

President Saparmurat Niyazov took part in the ceremonies devoted to the 10th anniversary of the foundation of the Commonwealth of Independent States held in Moscow, but left before the summit's final meeting.

As our correspondent reports, Niyazov failed to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin personally to discuss two important problems: the readiness of Russia to extradite to Turkmenistan the former Turkmen Foreign Minister and Ambassador to China Boris Shikhmuradov, who is reported to be staying in Russia; and the transit of Turkmen oil through Russian territory to Ukraine.

Niyazov had a working lunch with Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma on 30 November. The presidents discussed a number of issues relating to bilateral partnership -- in particular, the supply of Turkmen gas to Ukraine in 2002 and the participation of Ukrainian companies in the implementation of investment projects in Turkmenistan.

Kuchma told Niyazov that Turkmen gas would be paid for on time and accurately. The Ukrainian debt of about $30 million for gas supplies would be effectively paid off during the coming days, Kuchma said.

Niyazov is reported to have been the only participant of the summit not to take part in the final CIS summit meeting. (RFE/RL Turkmen Service,

Niyazov Visits Turkmen Embassy In Moscow

30 November 2001

While attending the CIS summit in Moscow, President Niyazov visited the newly refurbished Turkmen Embassy in Moscow and delivered a speech there.

Niyazov said that as a neutral state, Turkmenistan expressed its views through the UN and did not engage in regional disputes. He also reiterated his views to the effect that democracy in Turkmenistan must develop in a "civilized" way; different opinions and parties can emerge in a "healthy society," he said, but that has not yet been achieved.

Niyazov called for greater Russian investment in Turkmenistan and expansion of economic relations, which he said had been hampered because of the transition period in the two countries' economies. (RFE/RL Turkmen Service)

Niyazov Meets ITERA President Makarov In Moscow

29 November 2001

Saparmurat Niyazov met the president of ITERA, Igor Makarov, in the residence assigned to him in Moscow.

As Makarov told journalists after the meeting, during the conversation preliminary results of ITERA's cooperation with Turkmenistan this year were summed up, and also the two also discussed the development of a mutually advantageous partnership, including the participation of ITERA in developing oil and gas deposits in Turkmenistan. (

Situation Eases For Punished Protestants

29 November 2001

Following the payment of fines imposed on those who attended a Protestant service in a private flat in Ashgabat raided by the authorities on 15 November, sources in Turkmenistan have told Keston News Service that pressure on members of the Word of Life church has eased. Identity papers have been returned and the five people interrogated last week have so far been let off with a warning. However, one of the foreign nationals expelled from Turkmenistan in the wake of the raid has told Keston that he thinks the authorities set such large fines because they believed foreign Christians would pay them. (Keston News Service)

President Sends Defense Minister To Army For Two Months

28 November 2001

Saparmurat Niyazov has insisted that the defense minister will spend two months in the armed forces as "a good way to get a better understanding of the needs of the army."

"The defense minister, Gurbandurdy Begendzhov, is young and does not have enough experience of working in the armed forces. So it would be useful for him to go to military units in the towns of Serdar and Serkhetabad and work for two months there. This would help the young minister to gain a better understanding of the state of affairs in military units and accumulate work experience," Niyazov said at a meeting with top security officials on 26 November.

"While the minister is serving his two months of probation, his duties will be entrusted to his deputy, Serdar Chariyarov."

Niyazov said the same method should be used in other security agencies, including the border guard.

"Since the head of [the border guard], Tirkish Tyrmiev, has no deputy, such work has to be put off for a while but in any case we must employ this method of rotation of senior personnel in our state," the president said. (Interfax, Turkmen State News Service)

284 Foreigners To Be Amnestied In Turkmenistan

27 November 2001

Niyazov also announced an amnesty at the security meeting on 26 November. He said that "among those who will return to relatives and friends on the eve of the sacred 'Gadyr gijesi' (Night of omnipotence) will be 284 citizens of foreign states." (

Turkmen Parliament's Power Extended

26 November 2001

President Niyazov declared at a meeting in Ashgabat with ministry and department heads, public organizations, guidance of local administrations, and parliament deputies that the Mejlis will be given the right to supervise the activity of the local gengeshliks (councils). (

Turkmenbashi-Style Army

26 November 2001

A special task force of the Ministry of Internal Affairs celebrated the 10th anniversary of its foundation.

Nowadays servicemen carry out half of their military training day at subsidiary farms. As A Turkmen TV moderator said, "routine cattle-breeding or farming make our servicemen more diligent in defense of the country. The servicemen have understood that the defense of the motherland may be combined with self-sufficiency in food. Our servicemen's self-sufficiency in food is being achieved by their hard work. According to a task set by the Turkmen president, servicemen have begun to breed cattle, sheep, and goats at subsidiary farms. Servicemen have already carried out everything to provide livestock with grass and ensure their growth. As in everything, a rich harvest demands hard work." (Turkmen TV)

Turkmen Head Again Sacks Ministers, Some For 'Grave Shortcomings'

24 November 2001

Turkmen President Niyazov issued decrees on 24 November dismissing the economics and finance minister, Orazmurat Begmuradov, and nine other ministers and officials. Several, including Begmuradov, were given new jobs on six months' probation and warned that if their performance was unsatisfactory they would be dismissed without another job being offered.

Jumamurat Kakajanov was dismissed from the post of head of the Central Tax Service.

Orazmurat Begmuradov was appointed minister of social security on a six-month probation period. Begmuradov was the minister of economics and finance.

Enebay Ataeva was appointed minister of economics and finance on a six-month probation period. If her performance is inadequate she is to be relieved of her post without being offered another. Ataeva was the minister of social security.

Charymammed Gayibov was appointed the minister of trade and foreign economic relations on a six-month probation period. Gayibov was the head of the state commodity and raw materials exchange.

Bairammurat Muradov was appointed head of the Central Tax Service on a six-month probation period. Muradov was the deputy minister of health and pharmaceutical industry.

Resulberdi Khodzhagurbanov was appointed minister of communications on a six-month probation period. Khodzhagurbanov was the deputy minister of communications.

Arslan Nepesov was released from the post of state minister and of the head of the Turkmenhaly (Turkmen Carpets) state association.

Gulya Garadzhaeva was appointed state minister and the head of Turkmenhaly on a six-month probation period. Garadzhaeva was the deputy head of the Turkmenhaly.

Kakageldi Ashyrov was sacked from the post of the governor of Mary region, Serhetabat district, for grave shortcomings in his work and failing in his duties.

Annaberdi Berkeliev was sacked from the post of head of Turkmenobahyzmat (Turkmen farm service) state association for grave shortcomings in his work and failing to cope with his tasks. (Turkmen TV, "Neitralny Turkmenistan")

Turkmen President Fires Regional Governor, District Heads For Shortcomings

23 November 2001

Saparmurat Niyazov continues his policy of mass dismissals of officials. This time he issued a decree on 23 November dismissing the governor of Akhal region and the heads of six districts in Akhal, Mary, Lebap and Dashoguz regions for "serious shortcomings" in their work and failure to cope with their tasks, misuse of budget funds, arrears in paying wages, and failure to fulfill social development plans in the provinces.

Kakajan Tasliev was dismissed from the post of governor of Akhal region for serious shortcomings in his work and failure to cope with his tasks.

Gandym Khanliev was appointed governor of Akhal region for a probation period of six months.

Muhammeddurdy Orazgeldiev was dismissed from the post of administrator of Tejen district of Akhal region for serious shortcomings in his work and failure to cope with his tasks.

Owezdurdy Gashymov was released from the post of administrator of Vekilbazar district of Mary region for serious shortcomings in his work and failure to cope with his tasks.

Sar Saparov is to be released from the post of administrator of Akdepe district of Dashoguz region for serious shortcomings in his work and failure to cope with his tasks.

Jumagul Hajimuradov was released from the post of the administrator of Hojambaz district of Lebap region for serious shortcomings in his work and failure to cope with his tasks.

Nazar Allakow was released from the post of administrator of Altyn Asyr district of Akhal region for serious shortcomings in his work and failure to cope with his tasks.

Gandym Hanliev was released from the post of administrator of Gawers district of Akhal region due to his transfer to another post. (Turkmen TV)

Niyazov Rewrites History Of Turkmen People

23 November 2001

Turkmen mass media published an article by Kakamurat Ballyev, the president's press secretary, under the heading "Doctor of the human soul" on 23 November.

It says that Saparmurat Niyazov has responded to the request of delegates of the National Council, held in October, and started rewriting an interpretation of the history of the Turkmen people.

"For 74 years of Soviet supremacy, scientists -- historians even in the slightest degree -- did not do any appreciable work on studying and restoration of history of the people, on the contrary, they strained every nerve to adjust it to stereotypes of the Soviet outlook," Kakamurat Ballyev writes.

"Try to understand us correctly, we don't try to cross out the good things, that happened to us in the past, we don't aim to blacken the work of the Soviet historians. It's not worthwhile to be silent about mistakes of the past too, as time dictates its own rules. It is time to write the truthful history of the people, not falsified to please anyone, to approach to this work with responsibility."

Kakamurat Ballyev said, "Saparmurat Turkmenbashi, despite the tremendous workload of state affairs, has responded to the request of Halk Maslakhaty and has already started to work."

"To write a truthful history of the people," Ballyev continued, "our dear Serdar had to work hard on gathering valuable information, established facts. And sources which he will use in his work are delivered from the best libraries of the world. We can only guess, how labor-intensive his work could be, how much time and effort it will take for our dear leader of the nation to write this book, how many sleepless nights he should spend. We admire our Serdar, we are proud of him, and we shall be grateful to him to the end of days for his selfless love to people." (

Niyazov Declares Forthcoming Amnesty

23 November 2001

About 9,000 prisoners will be released from custody ahead of schedule in Turkmenistan in honor of the Night of Omnipotence of the Muslim month Ramadan on 13 December, President Niyazov announced on 23 November while speaking to the expanded session of the cabinet.

Niyazov has given instructions that the appropriate commission should consider the question of the opportunity to halve the term of punishment of the majority of prisoners in the near future. (RFE/RL Turkmen Service,, Turkmen TV, Interfax)

OSCE Parliamentary Assembly Chairman In Ashgabat

22 November 2001

During consultations carried out on 22 November in Ashgabat, the chairman of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organization on Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), Adrian Severin, suggested holding a trans-Asiatic forum of parliamentarians.

As he said, the realization of such a forum will allow parliamentarians of the countries -- OSCE members, including Turkmenistan -- to discuss current regional problems, which today can be solved only together. Severin in particular emphasized that the holding of a trans-Asiatic forum is necessary because of the tendency of increasing interdependency of all regions of the world on security and stability issues. The forum is expected to work within the framework of the parliamentary assembly of OSCE and to be held annually.

Severin held negotiations with the chairman of the Turkmen parliament, Rejepbay Arazov, and Minister of Foreign Affairs Rashid Meredov. During the talks, regional problems as well as questions of the development of cooperation between Turkmenistan and the OSCE were discussed. (

Foreigners Can Buy Land In Turkmenistan Only By Presidential Permission

21 November 2001

Saparmurat Niyazov has signed a decree whereby local authorities, ministries, and departments are henceforth deprived of the right to give land to foreign legal entities, foreign citizens, or joint ventures for industrial, civil or other engineering, realization of survey works, mineral development, or individual use.

According to the document, "parcels of land are given to legal and natural persons of foreign states and joint ventures on the territory of Turkmenistan only on terms of rent and under decision of the president of Turkmenistan -- the chairman of the Cabinet." All land that has already been leased to foreign nationals and companies as well as to joint ventures will be re-registered before 1 February 2002. (Interfax,, Turkmen TV)

Turkmenistan Offers Fields To Foreign Investors For Prospecting

20 November 2001

Turkmenistan has offered foreign investors the opportunity to prospect reserves of 15 oil and gas fields.

President Niyazov approved the list of the fields and licensing rules by a resolution on 20 November. The prospecting will be licensed through direct negotiations and production-sharing accords, the resolution says.

Four foreign companies are working on the basis of production-sharing accords now, according to the Turkmen Oil and Gas Ministry. Two of them are working on land, and two in the Caspian Sea.

Since the production-sharing accords were enacted (August 1996), about $500 million has been invested in oil and gas projects in Turkmenistan. (ITAR-TASS)

U.S. Embassy In Ashgabat Gives Reception In Honor Of Ramadan

19 November 2001

On 19 November the U.S. Embassy in Ashgabat arranged a special reception in honor of the sacred month of Ramadan, which began two days before.

The American diplomatic mission emphasizes that realization of the given arrangement is "a tribute of profound respect of Islamic traditions and spiritual values which are an essential part of universal culture." (

Afghan Delegates Seeks Leadership Role for Former King

28 November 2001

Delegates at the conference of Afghan leaders near Bonn, Germany, seem to agree that Afghanistan's former king should lead an interim government.

The conference has set as a top priority the establishment of an interim administration, until a permanent broad-based government is elected. Afghan adviser Fatima Gailani said that the delegates are nearing agreement to back Zahir Shah, the former king living in exile in Rome, as the temporary administration's head.

Homayun Jarir, a member of the Cyprus group delegation, said that ethnic differences should not interfere with the priority of creating an interim government.

"Look, there is no discussion of Turkmen, Uzbek, Turkmen Pashtun, or Tajik. We appeal that Afghans try not to raise such matters. Once, we considered Afghanistan as our common home and we were all living brotherly without having such talks. Here, four groups have gathered. They can in no way represent all people of Afghanistan. Representing all the Afghan people is not the subject here. The subject is to reach an interim settlement, because the present situation is an exceptional situation. Afghanistan needs an interim administration."

UN and Afghan delegates have emphasized creating a representative and multiethnic government. (RFE/RL)

OSCE Must Play Greater Role In Strengthening Security In Central Asia

22 November 2001

The threat of international terrorism requires that the OSCE play a greater role in strengthening stability in Central Asia, Kyrgyz President Askar Akaev said while meeting with Aidyl Idilya, the new director of the OSCE center in Bishkek, on 22 November.

Akaev stressed that for the past 10 years the OSCE has been giving Kyrgyzstan considerable assistance in conducting democratic reforms and is now helping the country create an independent judicial system, introduce the institution of a human rights envoy, and also improve election technologies.

The president also said that Kyrgyzstan has already initiated an international conference on terrorism and extremism prevention with the support of the OSCE and the UN.

"The conference will be very important for consolidating the efforts of many countries in terrorism prevention," Akaev said. The conference will take place in Bishkek on 13-14 December. (Interfax)

Exclusive Interview With Boris Shikhmuradov On Afghan Conflict, Situation In Turkmenistan

30 November 2001

RFE/RL: Mr. Shikhmuradov, as a former minister of foreign affairs and a special envoy of Turkmenistan in Afghanistan, what can you say about the situation in Afghanistan?

Boris Shikhmuradov: There is certainly deep meaning in the fact that Afghanistan is the number-one topic in the world today. Efforts of the world community in the fight against international terrorism have been followed by practical steps in the normalization of the situation in this country, aimed at returning Afghanistan to a normal state after more than 20 years military rule --starting first with outside forces and then inside the country. Afghanistan is our neighbor, the neighbor of Turkmenistan, and its destiny is closely connected with the Turkmen people's destiny. There live thousands, perhaps, millions of our countrymen. It was only in the early 1990s that Turkmenistan had an active position towards Afghan destiny, trying to influence the world community to make it face the Afghan problems. The active role of Turkmenistan in settling Afghan conflicts seemed to be strong at that time. However, at a certain stage [President Saparmurat] Niyazov began making political maneuvers. I remember that Afghanistan's President Rabbani and the foreign affairs minister, Dr. Abdullah, visited Turkmenistan several times. Niyazov found neither time nor opportunity to meet them in an unpleasant way, under the pretext of an acute sickness or an absence, although everybody knew Niyazov was present and healthy. But he simply did not want to act as a neutral side, which he always liked to declare and to talk about.

Today the policy of Niyazov has gained a new dimension. He has taken a so-called "ostrich's position," having isolated Turkmenistan from the international community and activities in the Afghan conflict's settlement. Turkmenistan does not participate in the world's political events, settlement in postwar Afghanistan, solution of thousands of Afghan Turkmen refugees' destiny in Iran and Pakistan.

Turkmenistan has not gotten involved in the activities of the international antiterrorist campaign. It is strange and very dangerous for the political future of my country, the development of regional and global relations.

In Niyazov's behavior there is nothing new or unexpected for me. It was he who ordered the shooting of ethnic Turkmen refugees in 1996 who were trying to escape from persecution in Afghanistan and find shelter on Turkmen territory. There were many people wounded and even killed. Thousands of Turkmens who managed to avoid assassination and to get into Turkmenistan were later violently deported anyway. These are Niyazov's morals. Which still causes so many troubles for Turkmenistan today.

RFE/RL: What has Turkmenistan to do regarding Afghanistan today?

Shikhmuradov: Turkmenistan has to express its voice both in Bonn and in Islamabad, where the future of Afghanistan is being negotiated. This voice has to sound in Ashgabat, too, where there are all possibilities to organize a certain meeting on perspectives of the political settlement in Afghanistan, coordination of the antiterrorist coalition's activities. Unfortunately, Turkmenistan has been isolated from this important international process.

RFE/RL: What can the Bonn talks bring to Afghanistan?

Shikhmuradov: I have been following the events in Afghanistan professionally for about 25 years. One should neither overestimate nor underestimate the talks in Bonn and their results. This is the most important conference on Afghanistan, which has to define the main ways of the new government's formation and possible development of the country, implementation of the national constitution. It is too early to say that everything has started in Bonn and will be completed there. The fact is that the important process of Afghanistan's returning to normal conditions has surely begun there. Yet much more should be done for solving the problem of interethnic relations within Afghanistan.

RFE/RL: One month has passed since you officially declared your open opposition to Saparmurat Niyazov's policy. What are you doing now?

Shikhmuradov: As I have mentioned in my previous interviews, I have been establishing contacts and links with political structures, state politicians of other countries. Together with friends of mine, Turkmens, who live in exile outside Turkmenistan, we have prepared a detailed analysis of the financial and economic situation in Turkmenistan for this year and marked the problems which our country will face next year. We have analyzed the socioeconomic situation in the state, civil and human rights' freedoms of the people. On that basis a report for the OSCE has been completed. I maintain contacts with the leadership of the OSCE. A number of documents revealing Niyazov's anticonstitutional and illegal activities have been compiled. Niyazov has been wasting state funds for different fun and show projects, while most Turkmens grow poorer. Evidence of Niyazov's participation in his political opponents' deaths, harassments in Turkmen prisons, has also been collected. Serious facts of harassments and illegal arrests of citizens of Russia, Iran, Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Turkey, Pakistan, U.K., and Ukraine have been compiled. We have established contacts with many international political organizations for human rights defense, which we regularly inform about the situation in Turkmenistan, harassment of people for their political, religious and national identities.

A special report has been prepared on Niyazov's refusal to participate in the antiterrorist operation in Afghanistan and the hidden reasons for this. Niyazov's activities against ethnic Turkmen refugees and his attempts to destabilize the situation in Central Asia are also described. We have collected the facts of Turkmenbashi's anti-Iranian, anti-Turkish, anti-Russian, anti-American policy, aimed at Turkmenistan's self-isolation. There are materials of Niyazov's destructive activities within the CIS and the International Foundation for Saving the Aral Sea, his plans of autonomous solution of water problems with no scientific or economic expertise, extremely dangerous for the whole Central Asian region.

We are working hard on the abovementioned issues, and Turkmen people keep helping us in this work. We act in a democratic, constitutional way, and hope there soon will be positive results of our pressure on the present Turkmen regime.

RFE/RL: How do you want to inform the Turkmen people about your work?

Shikhmuradov: First of all, I have the possibility to be in touch with many people from Turkmenistan and personally inform them about our activities. There is mass media, not Turkmen yet, unfortunately. Daily I meet journalists, give interviews, publish materials in leading international newspapers, magazines and agencies, such as "The Washington Post," "Financial Times," Reuters, Eurasia, as well as influential Internet sites. It is a pity that the Turkmen population has been cut off from the Internet. Nevertheless, I know for sure that many Turkmen citizens follow the political events via Internet. RFE/RL plays an important role in spreading true information about our work, and I am thankful to them for objective expertise and analysis of the real situation in Turkmenistan, provided by the journalists of RFE/RL's Turkmen Service.

RFE/RL: Do Turkmen authorities still put pressure on you and follow you?

Shikhmuradov: Of course, this goes on and will go on. I was ready for that. My family is under heavy pressure. Nevertheless, I keep working hard. Now I know for sure that my act on 1 November was not a step into emptiness. It was the first step on the road, where more and more people appear. I think in the nearest future you will be able to see it.

RFE/RL: What are the main problems of the ordinary citizens of Turkmenistan today?

Shikhmuradov: There are so many problems that all your program's airtime would not be enough to describe them. I consider the major problem and tragedy of ordinary Turkmens today to be the illegal mass destruction of their apartments and houses. This action was ordered by Niyazov personally to build some new, often useless facilities and objects on the places of the destroyed apartments. As a result, 150-180,000 innocent Turkmen citizens are estimated to have lost their homes with no compensation. I address all those homeless Turkmens, ask them to apply to international human rights organizations and to report every single case of their illegal deprivation of homes.

RFE/RL: But how can Turkmen citizens contact and apply to international organizations?

Shikhmuradov: First of all, through the mass media, such as RFE/RL Turkmen and other services, via the Internet. They can try to report their cases to local Turkmen mass media, because not all the journalists in Turkmenistan have lost consciousness. Those journalists will be able to forward those reports further via their own channels to independent sources, which could publish the reports.

Thank you for the interview. (RFE/RL Turkmen Service)