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Majlis Podcast: Nothing Is Free In Turkmenistan Anymore


President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov says Turkmenistan is doing so well, people don't need the help anymore. The evidence says otherwise.

Turkmenistan's President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov has signed the order to eliminate as of January 1, 2019, allotments of free water, gas, and electricity that the Turkmen government has provided to citizens for more than 25 years.

Berdymukhammedov said Turkmenistan's economy is doing so well that authorities no longer need to provide this benefit. His appraisal of Turkmenistan's economic performance is not supported by the evidence, which shows the country is in its worst economic crisis sinceindependence in 1991.

There is worse to come as increases are expected soon in the cost of basic goods such as flour, sugar, cooking oil, and other items that have been in short supply in Turkmenistan for more than two years now.

RFE/RL's media-relations manager, Muhammad Tahir, moderated a discussion on the decision to cut free water, gas, and electricity and the ramifications it could have as Turkmenistan's economy continues to spiral downward.

Participating in the discussion from India, Sam Bhutia, Central Asia analyst at the Economist Intelligence Unit, took part in the Majlis. From London, Max Hess, head of Political Risk Advisory and principal analyst at AKE International, joined the discussion. Farruh Yusupy, the head of RFE/RL's Turkmenistan Service, known locally as Azatlyk, sat in on the talk. I had a few things to say also.

Majlis Podcast: Tough Measures In Tough Times In Turkmenistan
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About This Blog

Qishloq Ovozi is a blog by RFE/RL Central Asia specialist Bruce Pannier that aims to look at the events that are shaping Central Asia and its respective countries, connect some of the dots to shed light on why those processes are occurring, and identify the agents of change. Content will draw on the extensive knowledge and contacts of RFE/RL's Central Asian services but also allow scholars in the West, particularly younger scholars who will be tomorrow’s experts on the region, opportunities to share their views on the evolving situation at this Eurasian crossroad. The name means "Village Voice" in Uzbek. But don't be fooled, Qishloq Ovozi is about all of Central Asia.

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