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Legendary Turkmen 'King Of Drums' Buried In Moscow

MOSCOW -- Dozens of friends, relatives, and fans of famous Turkmen musician and composer Rishat Shafi attended his funeral in the Bogorodskoye cemetery near Moscow, RFE/RL's Turkmen Service reports.

Shafi was the leader and drummer of Turkmenistan's jazz-rock group Gunesh, which was very well-known in the Soviet Union in the late 1970s and 1980s.

He unexpectedly died of heart failure while playing soccer on November 4. He was 57.

Representatives from the Turkmen Embassy in Moscow and the Moscow-based nongovernmental organization Watan (Fatherland), which unites ethnic Turkmen in Russia, were at the burial.

Famous composer and musician Vladimir Presnyakov told RFE/RL at the funeral that Shafi's death leaves him unable to express his feelings. He said it means the loss of a world-class "musician, drummer, composer, and entertainer."

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Shafi moved to Moscow, where he lived until his death.

He visited Turkmenistan this year.

Watan President Maksat Saparmuradov told RFE/RL that Shafi's trip to his homeland was initiated by Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov.