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Turkmenistan's Authoritarian Leader Reprimands Ministers Of National Security, Defense

Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov
Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov

Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov has handed down a "severe" reprimand to his national security chief and the defense minister over perceived shortcomings in their performance.

According to the state media, Berdymukhammedov issued "a severe rebuke with a final warning" to the National Security Minister Yaylym Berdiev and Defense Minister Begench Gundogdyev "for improperly carrying out their service duties and shortcomings committed during their official activities." The Turkmen leader did not give any further details.

Berdymukhammedov also announced at the session of the State Security Council's session in Ashgabat on January 22 that Berdiev was demoted to the rank of major general from colonel general and that he had been removed from the post of secretary of the State Security Council.

Berdiev was publicly reprimanded by Berdymukhammedov for "mistakes" in November in the wake of an international outcry around a gay Turkmen doctor, who along with his family members, faced pressure following an interview with RFE/RL in which he detailed his tormented life as a homosexual in a conservative society.

Berdymukhammedov has ruled the gas-rich former Soviet republic in Central Asia with an iron fist since the death of his autocratic predecessor, Saparmurat Niyazov, in December 2006.