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Turkmen President Replaces Interior Minister, Deputy Takes Cabinet Seat

Former Interior Minister Mammetkhan Chakiyev
Former Interior Minister Mammetkhan Chakiyev

ASHGABAT -- Turkmenistan's authoritarian ruler Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov has replaced the tightly controlled former Soviet republic’s interior minister, saying Mammetkhan Chakiyev is being "moved to another job."

Berdymukhammedov announced the decision to relieve Chakiyev of his ministerial duties at a joint session of the government and the Security Council on July 1

Berdymukhammedov did not say what Chakiyev's new job is and announced that Deputy Interior Minister Ovezdurdy Khojaniyazov has been promoted to replace Chakiyev.

Chakiyev took over the Interior Ministry in October 2019.

The energy-rich Central Asian nation's leader frequently shuffles the government, very often in tandem with sharp criticism of cabinet members for their "shortcomings at work."

When Chakiyev was appointed interior minister in 2019, his predecessor, Iskender Mulikov, was arrested, sentenced to a lengthy prison term on corruption charges, and shown on state television handcuffed in a prison robe with his head shaved.

Former Turkmen Interior Minister Iskender Mulikov
Former Turkmen Interior Minister Iskender Mulikov

Critics say that Berdymukhammedov uses such shows of humiliation to foment fear within the country and strengthen his power in the extremely isolated country.

Government critics and human rights groups have long accused Berdymukhammedov of suppressing dissent and making few changes in the restrictive country since he came to power after the death of autocrat Saparmurat Niyazov in 2006.

Like his predecessor, Berdymukhammedov, who has carefully constructed a personality cult, has relied on subsidized prices for basic goods and utilities to help maintain his grip on power.