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Silly Dictator Story #20: Nobody Knows Berdy

Turkmenistan's strongman leader Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov
Back home everyone -- everyone -- knows the name and face of Turkmen President Gurbanguly “the Protector” Berdymukhammedov.

Nonetheless, although he may be presiding over the "Era of Supreme Happiness" on his home turf in Turkmenistan, during his official trips abroad it's a totally different story.

In March, on an official visit to Kyiv, Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych committed a diplomatic gaffe when he confused Kazakhstan with Turkmenistan, making Berdymukhammedov appear a tad uncomfortable.

You can see the video (and Berdymukhammedov’s disappointed facial expression) here.

Adding salt to the wound, another gaffe occurred on September 11 during the Turkmen leader's two-day state visit to Latvia for discussions on using the Baltic country as a channel for trade between energy-rich Turkmenistan and the European Union.

This time, Berdymukhammedov was announced as the leader of Turkey by Latvian President Andris Berzins.

You can listen to the audio in Latvian provided by RFE/RL’s Turkmen Service, here.

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It seems poor old "Berdy" just can’t catch a break at the moment.

-- Deana Kjuka

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About This Blog

Written by RFE/RL editors and correspondents, Transmission serves up news, comment, and the odd silly dictator story. While our primary concern is with foreign policy, Transmission is also a place for the ideas -- some serious, some irreverent -- that bubble up from our bureaus. The name recognizes RFE/RL's role as a surrogate broadcaster to places without free media. You can write us at

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