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Advisory Body Wants To Name Turkmen President 'Protector'

Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov
Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov
ASHGABAT -- Turkmenistan's Council of Elders plans to bestow on President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov the formal title "Arkadag," meaning "protector," RFE/RL's Turkmen Service reports.

Berdymukhammedov is frequently referred to as "Arkadag" in the state media and at official meetings and ceremonies.

During a tour this month to meet with elders around the country, Council of Elders deputy head Murat Garriyev called on them to formalize that title.

Garriyev also proposed giving the same name to the planned new capital of Akhal province, which is to be built about 40 kilometers east of Ashgabat.

The Council of Elders is expected to agree to those proposals at its annual meeting in Ashgabat on October 25.

The former Peoples' Council, a decision-making body, was renamed the Council of Elders in line with constitutional amendments adopted in 2008. Its powers were downgraded to make it an advisory body.

Former Turkmen President Saparmurad Niyazov, who died in December 2006, was given the titles "Turkmenbashi" ("leader of all Turkmen") in the early 1990s and "Turkmenbashi the Great" in 2001.