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Turkmen Trade Minister Jailed On Corruption Charges After Firing

Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov
Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov

ASHGABAT -- Turkmenistan's minister of trade and foreign economic ties, Amandurdy Ishanov, has been sentenced to an unspecified prison term on corruption charges just days after being dismissed from his post.

The strictly controlled energy-rich Central Asian country's state-TV channels showed several handcuffed men, including Ishanov, who publicly confessed to various corruption-linked unrelated crimes on September 13.

The video was shown on several large monitors during a cabinet session, at which Prosecutor-General Batyr Atdaev reported the results of an anti-corruption campaign launched by the former Soviet republic's authoritarian leader, Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov.

Ishanov said he committed various corruption-related crimes in recent years along with a well-known businessman Charymukhammed Kulov and leaders of several state-owned industrial facilities.

Although it was announced that Ishanov and other men in the video had been sentenced to prison terms, no information was given with regard to when trials were held or details of their sentences.

Several people in Turkmenistan, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that the "public confessions" looked like a performance staged by the authorities "to prove" their fight against corruption.

Turkmenistan's tightly controlled economy has been struggling in recent months and the government has been trying to blame corruption for weaker revenues.

For months, the country has struggled with shortages of staple foods in shops due in part to unsuccessful energy deals and low global prices for natural gas, Turkmenistan's main export.

The government has also decreased or abandoned subsidies on household needs such as water, gas, and electricity.

Government critics and human rights groups say Berdymukhammedov has suppressed dissent and made few changes in the restrictive country since he came to power after the death of autocrat Saparmurat Niyazov in 2006.

Like his late predecessor, Berdymukhammedov has relied on subsidized prices for basic goods and utilities to help maintain his grip on power.

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