Under the authority of the Patron: 12 facts about Turkmenistan

Ashgabat, Turkmenistan. 2009

Photo: Alexander Zemlianichenko / AR

Feb 12, Turkmenistan held presidential elections. At the highest post claims 11 candidates, but the undisputed favourite remains the current President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov, first elected in 2007. Facts about one of the most closed countries in Central Asia and its presidents – a review of RBC

  • The first President of Turkmenistan Saparmurat Niyazov was in power in the Republic for more than 20 years: in 1985-1991 he was the first Secretary of the Communist party of the Turkmen SSR, and after the Declaration of independence, the first President of Turkmenistan (1991-2006). The official title of Turkmenbashi (“head of the Turkmen”) and Serdar (“leader”).

  • Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov, the second President of Turkmenistan, has ruled the country for 10 years. He is the specialty dentist, the Niyazov government has since 1997 held a post of the Minister of health. After the death of Turkmenbashi in December 2006 the acting President was to be Chairman of the Turkmen Parliament, Ovezgeldy Ataev, however, against it criminal case, and the decision of the State security Council to perform the duties of the President became Berdimuhamedov. And on 11 February 2007, he won the election with a score of 89,23%. The official title Berdimuhamedov — the Arcadia (“patron).

  • The first President of Turkmenistan Saparmurat Niyazov in 2001 eliminated the Turkmen Opera and ballet theater, state Philharmonic hall, the national folk dance ensemble, and a center of pop and circus arts. After the coming to power of Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov has lifted a ban on Opera, ballet and the circus.

  • In the budget for 2017 laid in a deficit of 1% (in 2016 — 2%). The revenue part of the budget is formed mainly due to oil and gas industry, chemical industry, electricity and construction. In 1993 Turkmenistan was introduced communal benefits: the country’s citizens began to receive free gas, electricity and water. In accordance with the decree of Niyazov, benefits were to operate until 2030, however, Berdimuhamedov has introduced a limit on the consumption of gas — free left 50 cubic metres per month per person.

Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov. 2010

Photo: AP

  • Volume of export of Russia and China in Turkmenistan are comparable. According for 2015, Russia has supplied to Turkmenistan goods for $913 million, China is slightly smaller, at $815 million But imported China from Turkmenistan a hundred times more than Russia $7.8 billion versus $73 million In the structure to be imported from Turkmenistan of the goods 99% is natural gas. Russian imports from Turkmenistan plastics ($27 million), cotton ($18 million), textiles and garments ($12.5 million), mineral fuels (over $8 million).

  • From 1 January 2017 the minimum wage in Turkmenistan is set at 650 manats (about $185 at the official exchange rate). The base value for determining the minimum size of pensions — 254 manat (about $72), state benefits — 242 manats (about $69). The minimum size of pensions of great Patriotic war participants is set at 1063 manat per month (about $303).

  • Until 2008, the price of gasoline for citizens of Turkmenistan was about $0.02 per liter. Since 2008, car owners receive coupons for 120 liters of free fuel per month, but in 2014 gasoline again became chargeable. According GlobalPetrolPrices on 6 February 2017, the price of gasoline in Turkmenistan was $0,28 (cheaper only in Saudi Arabia, and Venezuela).

  • Despite the fact that tourism is named as one of the priority directions of development of Turkmenistan, the sector in the economy is so small that the country wasn’t included in the ranking of countries in terms of competitiveness of the travel and tourism world economic forum. To visit Turkmenistan, it is necessary that throughout the trip you were accompanied by a licensed government tour guide. Guide services cost about $30-$40 a day. Hotel accommodation and meals for foreigners is 60-80% higher than for citizens. According to the world Bank, in 2007 (latest data available) the country was visited by 8 thousand people. For leaving the country to the citizens of Turkmenistan until 2006, it was necessary to obtain permission from the authorities.

Visitors at the mausoleum of Saparmurat Niyazov and Turkmenbashi Ruhy mosque. 2009

Photo: Alexander Zemlianichenko / AR

  • In 2014, Forbes magazine has made stars out of former Soviet cities attractive for Russians from the point of view of business. The capital of Turkmenistan Ashgabat is in it for the last 20-th place. The authors note that the country has an unwritten rule — the company’s authorized capital shall be not less than $100 thousand, although the law requirements for its size is much less — only $1400 (5000 AZN).

  • In the ranking by the corruption perception index prepared by Transparency International in 2016, Turkmenistan took 154 place out of 176 (Russia — 131 out of 176). In the ranking of press freedom index prepared by the organization “reporters without borders” in 2016, Turkmenistan took place in 178 out of 180 (Russia — 148 out of 180).

  • In the report of Human Rights Watch for 2016 Turkmenistan called repressive government closed for independent evaluation. Also it says that the government severely restricts the rights to freedom of speech and freedom of religion. In 2015, Turkmenistan for the first time in 12 years, has sent a delegation to the annual meeting of OSCE on human rights. However, according to the report, reforms in the field of human rights is not led.

  • With 2016 in Turkmenistan is prohibited to advertise the services of hypnotists, healers (healers), psychics, fortune-tellers, astrologers, sorcerers, soothsayers and other persons, declaring themselves able to predict events, influence people, their spiritual life, property or environment by using supernatural abilities or forces.

With the participation of Polina Khimshiashvili and Natalya Demchenko

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