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In Turkmenistan, Singing The Praises Of Berdymukhammedov's Mom

Ogulabat Eje, the mother of Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov and the subject of a new song
Ogulabat Eje, the mother of Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov and the subject of a new song

For those who tend the flock, we salute you -- and your mother.

Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov's growing personality cult has taken a generational leap with the recent release of a single honoring his mom for giving "birth to a hero."

The song, sung by popular Turkmen singer Sahydursun Hojakowa and aired recently on state media, pays tribute to Ogulabat Eje, Berdymukhammedov's mother.

"We all bow before you," the song goes. "Glory to you, the mother who gave the world the great man and Arkadag," a reference to the title of "Protector" bestowed upon the 59-year-old leader, who took power in 2006 after the death of strongman Sarparmurat Niyazov.

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Little is known about Ogulabat Eje, who made a rare public appearance alongside her son and his family during voting on February 12, when Berdymukhammedov secured a third term in office.

Ogulabat Eje was mentioned in the isolated country’s strictly controlled state media in March 2015, when Berdymukhammedov visited an Ashgabat hospital where she was receiving treatment for an undisclosed illness.

Under Berdymukhammedov's leadership, the capital has erected a gold-plated 6-meter-high statue depicting the president on horseback, in an apparent tribute to his fondness for Turkmenistan’s famous horse breed Akhal Teke. The monument sits atop a giant base of white marble raised 20 meters about the ground.

The president has a mosque and a park named after him, while his portraits are plastered on billboards across the country.

His father, Myalikguly Berdymukhammedov, has already been honored. A bronze statue inside an Interior Ministry compound bears his name.

The president’s grandfather, Berdymukhammed Annaev, too, has been immortalized with a bust erected at a village school where he once worked as a teacher.

President Berdymukhammedov has effectively eliminated vestiges of Niyazov’s legacy, which included numerous statues and portraits all over the country and geographic locations and calendar months named after himself and family members.

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    Farangis Najibullah

    Farangis Najibullah is a senior correspondent for RFE/RL who has reported on a wide range of topics from Central Asia, including the impact of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on the region. She has extensively covered efforts by Central Asian states to repatriate and reintegrate their citizens who joined Islamic State in Syria and Iraq.

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    RFE/RL's Turkmen Service

    RFE/RL's Turkmen Service is the only international Turkmen-language media reporting independently on political, economic, cultural, and security issues from inside one of the the world’s most reclusive countries.

RFE/RL has been declared an "undesirable organization" by the Russian government.

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