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Majlis Podcast: Will Turkmenistan Come Clean About COVID-19?


Women wear face masks as a preventive measure against the spread of COVID-19 in Ashgabat despite claims by the Turkmen government that the virus does not exist there.

A group of Turkmen rights groups and media outlets working from outside Turkmenistan released an open letter on September 21 to bring attention to the alarming situation concerning the spread of COVID-19 in Turkmenistan, where the government continues to deny there has ever been any cases.

The letter called on the World Health Organization (WHO) to use its influence to convince Turkmen authorities to comply with promises they made to the WHO, such as providing samples from patients in Turkmenistan to independent laboratories for testing, and to remind Turkmen officials that "governments have a responsibility for the health of their peoples…"

The outrageous claim by Turkmen authorities that there is no COVID-19 in the country has been receiving more international attention as the BBC and CNN recently did reports on mounting evidence that the virus is raging out of control in Turkmenistan as the government continues to deny the presence of the coronavirus there.

On this week's Majlis Podcast, RFE/RL's media-relations manager, Muhammad Tahir, moderates a discussion on the facts and the fiction surrounding COVID-19 in Turkmenistan.

This week's guests are: from the Netherlands, Ruslan Myatiev, the founder of the independent Turkmen.news website and one of the signatories of the open letter to the WHO; from New York, Rachel Denber, the deputy director of the Europe and Central Asia Division at Human Rights Watch; and Bruce Pannier, the author of the Qishloq Ovozi blog.

Will Turkmenistan Come Clean About COVID-19?
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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 the dots to shed light on why those processes are occurring, and identify the agents of change.

Content draws 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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