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Live And Don't Let Dye: A Gray Day For Turkmen

Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov in 2017 (left) and in 2019
Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov in 2017 (left) and in 2019

TURKMENABAT, Turkmenistan -- Males working at state organizations in Turkmenistan's northeastern region of Lebap have been ordered not to dye their hair ahead of an expected visit by the Central Asian nation's autocratic leader, Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov.

Several employees at local schools, medical institutions, and municipal offices told RFE/RL on February 4 that all men over the age of 40 were told to refrain from dyeing their hair to conceal any graying.

Anyone found breaking the edict will not be allowed to attend public meetings with the president during his upcoming visit, the employees added.

No explanation was provided for the move, but many believe that the ban is linked to Berdymukhammedov’s decision to stop coloring his hair in 2018.

After that, authorities in the capital, Ashgabat, ordered all hairdressers in the city to stop providing dyeing services to men.

When Berdymukhammedov took over the former Soviet republic following the death of his authoritarian predecessor, Saparmurat Niyazov, in 2006, he had touches of gray in his hair.

He later started dyeing his hair black, but stopped in 2018 without explanation.