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Keeping Up With The Berdymukhammedovs

Myalikguly Berdymukhammedov, the father of Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov, in a September 2009 television appearance
Myalikguly Berdymukhammedov, the father of Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov, in a September 2009 television appearance
Reports say a police unit in Turkmenistan this week was named after the father of President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov.

State-run media reportedly describe it as a gesture to honor Myalikguly Berdymukhammedov's years of service to Turkmenistan's Interior Ministry and "his efforts in educating the younger generation." (It might also help quash the persistent and seemingly groundless speculation that the president is an illegitimate child of former President Saparmurat Niyazov.)

AP says:

Neutral Turkmenistan state newspaper reported Tuesday that the one-party parliament approved the gesture as recognition for Myalikguli Berdymukhammedov's years of service in the Central Asian nation's Interior Ministry.

The facility reportedly houses a museum dedicated to the elder Berdymukhammedov, who once worked there as a deputy colonel. His former office is said to have been fully been restored to its former state.

Critics might regard it as a high honor for a colonel, which is the rank eventually attained by Myalikguli Berdymukhammedov.

It certainly wouldn't have raised eyebrows under the late Turkmenbashi.

In fact, it's hardly news given the recent direction of Berdymukhammedov's administration. The honor to the First Father comes one year after a statue of the First Grandfather, Berdymukhammed Annaev, was installed at the Turkmen Military Academy. Annaev also had a school named after him in his home province in 2009. The forward of a recent hagiography of Annaev was authored by the president and written by the president's father. (It's bound to be a best-seller in a country where insufficient familiarity with the official narrative can spell doom.)

All of this is not necessarily making headlines, even if it comes as Turkmenistan has stepped up efforts to win friends and investment from abroad. For Ashgabat is most frequently criticized for egregious rights violations, strictures on public debate, and serial economic mismanagement -- not megalomania.

But Berdymukhammedov, who took office after Niyazov's death in 2006, buoyed optimists when he initially strived to distance himself from the excesses of his megalomaniacal predecessor. That makes this current, languid slide into a new cult of personality all the more regrettable.

-- Central Newsroom

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