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First Statue Appears Of Turkmenistan's (Latest) Autocratic President

As the partially obscured bust of Niyazov on the left side of this photo suggests, Berdymukhammedov doesn't appear much concerned with outshining his predecessor.
It took five years, but the first statue of Turkmenistan's autocratic President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov has appeared in Ashgabat.

The white equestrian statue depicts Berdymukhammedov clad in the attire of a traditional Turkmen tribal chief, astride his horse and with a dove -- a symbol of luck in Turkmen culture -- near his raised right hand.

The dove is inscribed with a poem, called "My White Dove," that was dedicated to Berdymukhammedov and has been recited on state television and appeared in other official media.

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The statue was unveiled at a flower exhibition at an Ashgabat art museum to mark spring's arrival.

Berymukhammedov was last month elected to a second term in office -- winning some 97 percent of the vote, according to authorities.

During his first term, the president made inroads into predecessor Saparmurat Niyazov's personality cult by removing Niyazov's numerous monuments across the country.

He has more recently followed in Niyazov's footsteps by renaming schools and other sites after his relatives, authoring books, and styling himself as "Arkadag," or "The Protector."

-- RFE/RL's Turkmen Service

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