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Majlis Podcast: WHO Wants Another Visit To 'Coronavirus-Free' Turkmenistan


The Turkmen government has ordered people to wear face masks because of "dust," while some talk of hospitals full of pneumonia cases.

The authorities in Turkmenistan continue to deny there are any cases of coronavirus in the country.

The World Health Organization (WHO) sent a mission, delayed by some 10 weeks, to Turkmenistan in early July but the carefully guided tour the mission received from Turkmen officials left them able to say only that in the places they visited there was no evidence of coronavirus in Turkmenistan.

But the WHO seems unconvinced and Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus participated in a video call at the end of the first week of August with Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov to push for a WHO mission to return.

Berdymukhammedov agreed.

On this week's Majlis podcast, RFE/RL's media-relations manager for South and Central Asia, Muhammad Tahir, moderates a discussion on the situation inside Turkmenistan and what a second WHO team might find out that the first WHO team did not.

This week's guests are, speaking from New York, Rachel Denber, the deputy director of Human Right Watch's Europe and Central Asia division; from Europe, Ruslan Myatiev, the founder and director of the Turkmen.news website; and from Prague, Farruh Yusupov, the director of RFE/RL’s Turkmen Service, known locally as Azatlyk; and Bruce Pannier, the author of the Qishloq Ovozi blog.

Majlis Podcast: Turkmenistan's COVID Dilemma
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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.

Bruce Pannier
Bruce Pannier

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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