Thursday, March 22, 2007

Just what the hell is going on here?

I think we need to have a talk with Gurbanguly Berdimuhammedov. Mere months after winning a mockery of an election, most foreign observers expected the new "winner" to continue ruling in the same way as his predecessor, the inscrutable Father of all Turkmen himself, Saparmurat Niazov. We expected more self-glorification, more bizarre edicts, and more of the usual casual disregard for human rights, freedoms, and the like.

Well, so far, Berdimuhammedov has been something of a disappointment for those expecting (or desiring!) a seamless continuation of Turkmenbashi's governance. What, for example, are we to make of a report claiming that Berdimuhammadov has voluntarily abolished some of his own executive powers? Are we able to infer anything from his scathing criticism of television programming choices in Turkmenistan that were laid down from on high by Turkmenbashi himself? Most shockingly of all, what would the Father of all Turkmen make of the decision by Berdimuhammedov to tone down the formerly all pervasive personality cult?

Is this any sort of way to run a Central Asian dictatorship?

So far, Turkmenistan hasn't taken any politically radical steps, but considering he's only been in power for less than three months, he's got quite a lot of work to do if he wants to continue to be mentioned in the same breath as his predecessor.

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