ASHGABAT -- Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov has called on the National Security Ministry to fight against those who "disseminate slanderous information about Turkmenistan's democratic, law-based secular state," RFE/RL's Turkmen Service reports.
In an address pegged to the19th anniversary of the establishment of the ministry on September 30, Berdymukhammedov also called for the secret police to follow the example of their "heroic forebearers," the Soviet-era KGB.
The National Security Ministry has recently moved to silence independent journalists, while state-controlled Internet providers have blocked the websites of many independent media outlets, including Azatlyk Radio, the Turkmen Service of RFE/RL.
Since Berdymukhammedov was elected president in early 2007, he has made modest efforts to dismantle the repressive apparatus created by his predecessor, Saparmurat Niyazov. But his promises to introduce serious democratic reforms and open Turkmenistan up to the outside world have largely been unfulfilled.
Local analysts say the minor reforms implemented so far have been cosmetic and that all media outlets, including the recently launched "privately owned" newspaper "Rysgal," remain under government control.
Turkmenistan also has only one registered political party, despite talk from the president of allowing at least a second party.