Turkmenistan: Not so much freedom, but lots and lots of irony

STR/AFP/Getty Images Turkmenistan’s autocratic President Saparmurat Niyazov can’t be beat for topping his own sense of ironic insanity. If you thought he was done when he built an ice palace and ski resort in his largely desert country, think again. Niyazov last week inaugurated a large, book-shaped building called the “House of Free Creativity” and ...

606529_TurkmenBook5.jpg
606529_TurkmenBook5.jpg

STR/AFP/Getty Images
Turkmenistan's autocratic President Saparmurat Niyazov can't be beat for topping his own sense of ironic insanity. If you thought he was done when he built an ice palace and ski resort in his largely desert country, think again. Niyazov last week inaugurated a large, book-shaped building called the "House of Free Creativity" and dedicated it to free media. This in a country where all forms of media are controlled by the government, unapproved contacts with foreigners are forbidden, less than 1 percent of the country has access to the Internet (which is censored by the government anyway), and libraries were ordered closed last year and foreign publications outlawed. The only books freely disseminated in the country are those written by Niyazov himself. His 2001 book of moral guidelines and "history" is virtually the only textbook used in schools, and he recently published a book of poetry and a tome on his family tree extolling the virtues of his forefathers. (Niyazov renamed a month of the year after his mother a few years ago.) What's next - batty plans to artificially alter the country's climate? Oh, wait. Too late. 

 

Hat tip: Boing Boing



STR/AFP/Getty Images

Turkmenistan’s autocratic President Saparmurat Niyazov can’t be beat for topping his own sense of ironic insanity. If you thought he was done when he built an ice palace and ski resort in his largely desert country, think again. Niyazov last week inaugurated a large, book-shaped building called the “House of Free Creativity” and dedicated it to free media. This in a country where all forms of media are controlled by the government, unapproved contacts with foreigners are forbidden, less than 1 percent of the country has access to the Internet (which is censored by the government anyway), and libraries were ordered closed last year and foreign publications outlawed. The only books freely disseminated in the country are those written by Niyazov himself. His 2001 book of moral guidelines and “history” is virtually the only textbook used in schools, and he recently published a book of poetry and a tome on his family tree extolling the virtues of his forefathers. (Niyazov renamed a month of the year after his mother a few years ago.) What’s next – batty plans to artificially alter the country’s climate? Oh, wait. Too late. 

 

Hat tip: Boing Boing

Carolyn O'Hara is a senior editor at Foreign Policy.

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