changes in turkmenistan?
July 20, 2009 7:01 PM   Subscribe

How has Turkmenistan changed since the death of former-president Saparmurat Niyazov/Turkmenbashi?

In undergrad, I briefly studied Turkmenistan and how the president created very strange and restrictive laws, erected giant gold statues of himself everywhere, made his memoir required reading for schoolchildren, etc, etc. Now, stumbling on a Turkmenistan-related news article has once more piqued my curiosity.

What has changed? Are the human rights issues any better? Are there any books or articles dealing with this topic (preferably in English but Russian is okay, too)?

Thanks, MeFi!
posted by mustcatchmooseandsquirrel to Society & Culture (4 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
The Economist had an article about this in the July 9, 2009 edition.
But more than two years on, much has changed, notably the personality cult surrounding the former president. Many golden statues in the capital, Ashgabat, have been taken down, though plenty remain, including the huge one that rotates so that Turkmenbashi always faces the sun. The late ruler’s North Korean-style political philosophy, the Ruhnama, is no longer taught in schools.
Most of the article is about the politics of the energy business.
posted by Nelson at 7:09 PM on July 20, 2009 [1 favorite]

There has actually been a rash of articles recently, apparently due to negotiations for a gas pipeline being in the news.

Reclusive Turkmenistan cracks open the door

The human rights situation seems to call for some optimism. The government cooperated with a UN rights review this spring, although Human Rights Watch felt the need to challenge the government to more reform. And they are now "in dialogue" with the EU over rights questions. That's better than the talk-to-the-hand stance of the Turkmenbashi era. But it still remains a notably repressive regime.
posted by dhartung at 9:52 PM on July 20, 2009

Oops, try this link. It's a short documentary on Turkmenistan under Berdymukhammedov, produced earlier this year for the Norwegian Helsinki Committee.
posted by ecmendenhall at 12:02 PM on July 21, 2009

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