Turkmen state media report that Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov has opened a new cancer hospital in Ashgabat by performing the first operation himself.
Reports say Berdymukhammedov -- who is a trained dentist -- removed a benign tumor from behind the patient's ear at the hospital on July 21.
Berdymukhammedov was assisted by German and local doctors.
A local dentist and retired doctor told RFE/RL's Turkmen Service
that it is not surprising that Berdymukhammedov attended the operation because any dentist is capable, in principle, of performing oral surgeries.
Another Turkmen doctor told RFE/RL that the president has thus far done many things outside of his learned profession, such as reportedly piloting a fighter plane and driving tanks.
Some observers say Berdymukhammedov's surgical performance -- which has been widely published in the Russian media -- is being used by the Kremlin to try to damage the president's reputation after his recent moves away from Moscow and toward the West in his energy policy.
On the same day as Berdymukhammedov performed the surgery, he also held a promotional launch for his latest book, this one on medicinal plants.
-- Turkmen Service