ASHGABAT -- Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov has pardoned 868 prisoners as part of the country's Independence Day celebrations.
Berdymukhammedov, an authoritarian ruler who controls all aspects of Turkmen society, has issued such decrees several times a year, usually on the eve of state holidays such as the upcoming Independence Day observance on September 27.
In a previous act of clemency, Berdymukhammedov announced in May the pardoning of 764 inmates to mark the Night of Revelation, an important stage during the holy month of Ramadan observed by Muslims around the world.
Berdymukhammedov's predecessor, Saparmurat Niyazov, issued similar amnesty decrees once a year during Ramadan.
Such acts of clemency usually do not cover political prisoners.