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Turkmen Leader Reopens Cinema To Mark Revival Of Film Industry

Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov has presided over a ceremony in downtown Ashgabat to reopen the prominent Watan movie theater, RFE/RL's Turkmen Service reports.

Schoolchildren, actors, and state officials also attended the event on December 28.

Watan is one of several cinemas in the Turkmen capital that is being renovated and reopened. After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the Turkmen film industry suffered as President Saparmurat Niyazov ordered the Turkmenfilm studios closed, leaving film professionals jobless.

The government's isolationist policy left Turkmen movies out of foreign film festivals as theaters were closed and used for other purposes.

Watan will again show films -- mostly from India and the United States -- until the Turkmen film industry returns to its Soviet-era level.

Berdymukhammedov declared early in his leadership that reforms were part of his "New Revival" program, which included lifting Niyazov's bans on the opera, circus, and movie theaters.

Berdymukhammedov came to power in 2006 after the death of Niyazov.