Friday photo: Turkmenbashi in pictures

Credit: IGOR SASSIN/AFP/Getty Images While the 5 million Turkmen who lived under the crushing rule of President-for-life Saparmurat Niyazov for 21 years are likely (and understandably) grateful about their leader’s untimely demise, the wacky world of dictators just got a little less interesting for us watchers of international affairs. Passport brings you a mini photo ...

605310_turk_statue5.jpg
605310_turk_statue5.jpg

Credit: IGOR SASSIN/AFP/Getty Images

While the 5 million Turkmen who lived under the crushing rule of President-for-life Saparmurat Niyazov for 21 years are likely (and understandably) grateful about their leader’s untimely demise, the wacky world of dictators just got a little less interesting for us watchers of international affairs. Passport brings you a mini photo essay, highlighting some of Turkmenbashi’s loonier moments:

(at left) Standing in the capital city of Ashgabat, this imposing statue is just one of the countless monuments to Turkmenbashi across Turkmenistan, including a massive golden effigy of Niyazov that rotates so the sun always shines on his face.



Credit: IGOR SASSIN/AFP/Getty Images

While the 5 million Turkmen who lived under the crushing rule of President-for-life Saparmurat Niyazov for 21 years are likely (and understandably) grateful about their leader’s untimely demise, the wacky world of dictators just got a little less interesting for us watchers of international affairs. Passport brings you a mini photo essay, highlighting some of Turkmenbashi’s loonier moments:

(at left) Standing in the capital city of Ashgabat, this imposing statue is just one of the countless monuments to Turkmenbashi across Turkmenistan, including a massive golden effigy of Niyazov that rotates so the sun always shines on his face.

(at right, below) A young Turkmen woman votes in the 2004 parliamentary elections under Turkmenbashi’s watchful eye. Opposition parties were, of course, illegal under Niyazov’s rule, and all of the candidates were carefully vetted. The self-proclaimed “father of all Turkmen” served as President for Life and Chairman of the Cabinet of Ministers, thereby having sole authority over both the executive and legislative branches. And he appointed all of the Supreme Court justices, too.
Credit: STR/AFP/Getty Images




(at left, above) A group of Turkmen girls pass by a pile of melons on “Melon Day,” celebrated on August 13 this year. In honor of the holiday, a melon was named after Turkmenbashi, joining a park, several cities and the month of January.
Credit: IGOR SASSIN/AFP/Getty Images


(at left, above) This book-shaped building, “The House of Free Creativity,” was officially built to promote a free press in a nice bit of Orwellian doublespeak. Turkmenbashi’s government kept tight reins on journalists and free speech, controlling the media and sending dissidents to psychiatric hospitals.
Credit: STR/AFP/Getty Images

(at right, above) The Ruhnama, or Book of the Spirit, is one of several books written by Turkmenbashi, who considers himself a poet. A spiritual and historic guide for Turkmen, it is required reading for passing drivers’ tests and for schools.
Credit: ANTOINE LAMBROSCHINI/AFP/Getty Images

For more of Turkmenbashi’s greatest hits, check out the Guardian’s The Personality cult of Turkmenbashi and the exceptionally well timed Turkmenistan travelogue from journalist and film maker Waldemar Januszczaj in the December 17 Sunday Times Magazine.

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