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Paucity Of Turkmen Books At Ashgabat Book Fair

A portrait of the Turkmen president looms over attendees of the international book fair in the capital, Ashgabat.
A portrait of the Turkmen president looms over attendees of the international book fair in the capital, Ashgabat.
Readers in Turkmenistan have thousands of books to choose from if they wish to know about culture, history, economy, science fiction, or other apolitical themes.

An international book fair opened in Ashgabat earlier this month under the motto "The Book is the Way to Cooperation and Progress."

Participants include some 90 publishing houses and authors from 25 countries, including Russia, Ukraine, and other former Soviet states.

The book fair was something of a disappointment for those looking for works by Turkmen authors.

RFE/RL Turkmen Service correspondents in Ashgabat say there were only about 20 books by local authors on offer.

However, there wasn't any shortage of books authored by Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov.

Berdymukhammedov's latest work, "Public Regulation of Socioeconomic Development in Turkmenistan" has come out in Turkmen and Russian languages this month -- just in time for the international book fair.

According to Turkmenistan's state-run media, the president's two-volume new book "describes the ideological, theoretical, scientific and practical basis for public regulation of the national economy, a unique model of economic development of modern Turkmenistan." Whatever that means.

Berdymukhamedov has authored two other books and published a collection of his speeches at cabinet meetings.

The dentist-turned-president's first book, "Scientific Fundamentals of the Development of Public Health in Turkmenistan," was published within months of his quick rise to power in late 2006 and 2007.

The second presidential book, "Akhaltekke: Our Pride and Glory," followed in 2009. A keen horseman, Berdymukhammedov dedicated that book to the Akhaltekke breed of horse, a national symbol of Turkmenistan.

Unlike his predecessor, Saparmurat Niyazov, the current Turkmen president has not turned his books into compulsory reading for all Turkmen students and public-sector workers.

But unlike other Turkmen authors, he enjoys the exclusive privilege of having his name appear on the cover of his books. Other authors' names appear only inside their books.

-- Farangis Najibullah