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G.I. Gurbanguly

We reported earlier this month about Turkmenistan's hands-on president performing surgery and attending his own book signing with the same nonchalance that we might pick up Starbucks on the way to work.

Well, he's at it again. A report by Turkmen TV shows the president inspecting Ashgabat's international airport. However, the explanation of the mechanics of the baggage-handling system clearly wasn't enough for Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov, who then piloted a helicopter and flew it to the capital's suburbs.

Three days later, state television then carried pictures of the Turkmen president inspecting troops, but instead of just smiling politely he was riding around in military vehicles and firing weapons.

He probably translates Ovid in his spare time and makes a souffle to die for.

-- Luke Allnutt

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Written by RFE/RL editors and correspondents, Transmission serves up news, comment, and the odd silly dictator story. While our primary concern is with foreign policy, Transmission is also a place for the ideas -- some serious, some irreverent -- that bubble up from our bureaus. The name recognizes RFE/RL's role as a surrogate broadcaster to places without free media. You can write us at

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