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*JR*
Dec 21st, 2006, 03:50 PM
Turkmen President Niyazov dies
POSTED: 0855 GMT December 21, 2006

ASHGABAT, Turkmenistan (AP) -- President Saparmurat Niyazov, who created a vast cult of personality during two decades of iron-fisted rule over arid, energy-rich Turkmenistan, has died, officials said Thursday. He was 66.

A terse report from state television said Niyazov died early Thursday of heart failure and showed a black-framed portrait of the man who had ordered citizens to refer to him as "Turkmenbashi" -- the Father of All Turkmen. An announcer in a dark suit read a list of Niyazov's accomplishments. The funeral is to be held Sunday.

Under the Constitution, Parliament Speaker Overzgeldy Atayev is to take over as acting president until elections that must be called within two months. The Constitution, however, bans Atayev from running for president in that vote.

Niyazov underwent major heart surgery in Germany in 1997 and last month publicly acknowledged for the first time that he had heart disease. But he did not seem seriously ill; two weeks ago he appeared in public to formally open an amusement park named after him outside the capital.

Niyazov had led Turkmenistan since 1985, when it was still a Soviet republic. After the 1991 Soviet collapse, he retained control and began creating an elaborate personality cult and turning Turkmenistan into one of the most oppressive of the ex-Soviet states.

He ordered the months and days of the week named after himself and his family, and statues of him were erected throughout the nation. He is listed as author of the "Rukhnama" (Book of the Soul) that was required reading in schools. Children pledged allegiance to him every morning.

He crushed all opposition and drew condemnation from human rights groups and Western governments. His death, after two decades of wielding enormous power, raised concerns about whether political instability would follow.

"His death means a terrible shock for the republic, its residents and the political class. It's comparable to a shock the Soviet Union felt after Stalin's death," Vyacheslav Nikonov, head of the Moscow-based Politika think tank, was quoted as saying by the RIA-Novosti news agency.

The agency also quoted Khudaiberdy Orazov, a leader of Turkmenistan's hard-pressed opposition, as saying he and other opposition leaders will meet soon to discuss how to proceed.

A 2002 alleged assassination attempt against Niyazov sparked a severe crackdown, leading to dozens of arrests that were criticized by international human rights groups and the U.S. government. A former foreign minister, Boris Shikhmuradov, was named as the mastermind of the alleged plot and sentenced to life in prison after a Stalinist-style show trial broadcast on TV that included a taped confession in which he said he was a drug addict and hired mercenaries for the attack while living in Russia.

Turkmenistan -- a majority Muslim country dominated by the vast Kara Kum desert -- has the world's fifth-largest natural gas reserves, but Niyazov failed to convert that wealth into prosperity for his country's 5 million people.

Earlier this year, the eccentric leader announced he would provide citizens with natural gas and power free of charge through 2030. But he has also tapped the country's vast energy wealth for outlandish projects -- a huge, man-made lake in the Kara Kum desert, a vast cypress forest to change the desert climate, an ice palace outside the capital, a ski resort and a 40-meter (130-foot) pyramid.

Niyazov was born Feb. 19, 1940. His father died in World War II and the rest of his family was killed in an earthquake that leveled Ashgabat in 1948. He was raised in an orphanage and later in the home of distant relatives.

Niyazov attended Leningrad Polytechnic Institute in Russia to study power engineering and worked at the Bezmeinskaya Power Station near Ashgabat after his graduation in 1966.

Named head of the Communist Party in Turkmenistan in 1985, Niyazov was named president of the Turkmen Soviet Socialist Republic in October 1990 and led his nation through its Oct. 27, 1991, independence. He was elected president of the new independent Turkmenistan in 1992 with a reported 99.5 percent of the vote. In 1994, a reported 99.9 percent of voters supported a referendum allowing him to remain in office for a second five-year term without having to face new elections.

In 1999, he was effectively made president for life after Parliament removed all term limits, but an August 2002 gathering of the country's People's Council -- a hand-picked assembly of Niyazov loyalists -- nonetheless went further and endorsed him as president for life.

Under Niyazov's rule, Turkmenistan adopted a strict policy of neutrality and spurned joining regional security or economic organizations that sprung up in the wake of the Soviet collapse.

But Niyazov supported the U.S.-led anti-terror campaign in neighboring Afghanistan, allowing coalition airplanes to use Turkmen airspace and humanitarian agencies to pass through to deliver aid.

Niyazov also pursued strong nationalistic policies to encourage the use of the Turkmen language over Russian and banned access to Russian-language media, leading to an increased exodus of some of the country's most educated citizens and decimating its school system. Secondary education has been reduced in Turkmenistan to a required nine years, causing human rights groups to complain of a deliberate attempt to dumb down the population to prevent dissent.

azdaja
Dec 21st, 2006, 04:14 PM
another dictator dead. good.

this guy was a true weirdo :cuckoo:

Qrystyna
Dec 21st, 2006, 04:14 PM
WOW I wasn't expecting that :eek:

It'll be interesting to see what happens in Turkmenistan now. A lot of people have no clue about the country, but IMO he was just as crazy as Kim Jong-Il. Apparently he was planning to step down in 2010, but I guess that has happened a bit early. Let us hope they decide to have multi party elections and NOT another insane, corrupt, money-wasting "president for life"

*JR*
Dec 21st, 2006, 04:54 PM
Last Updated: Tuesday, 17 May, 2005, 13:51 GMT (BBC)

Uzbekistan's President Islam Karimov is one of Central Asia's most autocratic leaders, running a repressive regime which retains many aspects of its Soviet past.

He does not tolerate dissent, and has banned many opposition groups, particularly Islamic organisations.

Critics also accuse him of sanctioning human rights abuses.

But while Mr Karimov has many enemies, he also has some influential friends.

He is an ally of Washington in the US-led war against terrorism, as well as enjoying the backing of the Russian government.

In the last few days he has faced an increasing dilemma - how far to crack down on those he perceives as challenging his rule, while at the same time retaining the support of his powerful allies.

Disputed polls

Born in Samarkand in 1938, Islam Karimov was raised in a Soviet orphanage before studying engineering and economics at university.

He initially worked as an aircraft engineer and then as an economic planner.

He became the Communist Party's First Secretary in Uzbekistan in 1989, and was then elected president of independent Uzbekistan in December 1991, in what Human Rights Watch termed a "seriously marred" poll.

He extended his term further by a referendum in 1995.


ISLAM KARIMOV
Uzbek President Islam Karimov
Born in 1938
Married to Tatiana, with whom he has two daughters
Came to power as head of Communist Party in 1989
Became president of independent Uzbekistan in 1991
Re-elected again in 2000, in polls international observers said were unfair
Runs a repressive regime, banning most opposition

He was re-elected in January 2000, and again the international community raised serious concerns about the poll's fairness.

The OSCE (Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe) refused to send observers after deciding that there was no possibility of a fair contest. US officials who did go said the poll was "neither free nor fair and offered Uzbekistan's voters no true choice".

The situation was no better in parliamentary elections in December 2004, in which Mr Karimov banned opposition parties from taking part.

Islamic threat

Mr Karimov's rule has now been extended again to 2007, and although he has been in power for more than 15 years, he remains intent on stifling any political opposition.

His most vitriolic attacks are reserved for those he views as Muslim extremists, intent on taking over the country.

Militants from several Islamic groups have been active in Uzbekistan.

The Islamic Movement of Turkestan (IMT) - said to have links to al-Qaeda - was blamed for a bomb blast in Tashkent in 1999 which killed more than a dozen people.

Mr Karimov also accused the IMT and another group, Hizb ut-Tahrir, of involvement in bomb attacks in the summer of 2004.

Both groups have the stated aim of establishing an Islamic state in Central Asia, though Hizb ut-Tahrir says it wants to do so using peaceful means.

Whatever the real extent of the Islamic threat, Mr Karimov's critics agree that he has used it to crack down on any form of opposition - militant or otherwise.

Uzbek troops in Andijan - 13/5/05
The crackdown in Andijan has drawn attention to Mr Karimov's regime
Human rights groups estimate that thousands of ordinary Muslims are in jail, accused of plotting against the government.

In 2004, former British Ambassador to Uzbekistan Craig Murray said he had heard of prisoners being boiled to death, while a United Nations official said in 2002 that torture was "institutionalised, systematic and rampant" in Uzbekistan.

The state maintains tight control of the media, and criticism of the president and his policies is not allowed.

Mr Karimov's administration has been heavily criticised by the international community for the bloody crackdown on protesters in Andijan in recent days.

But Islam Karimov is not a person to be bowed by criticism. Indeed, on the few occasions he gives interviews, he does not mince his words on his hardline tactics.

Reacting to the violence in 1999, he is quoted as saying: "I'm prepared to rip off the heads of 200 people, to sacrifice their lives, in order to save peace and calm in the republic."

"If my child chose such a path, I myself would rip of his head," he is quoted as telling the French news agency AFP.

Qrystyna
Dec 21st, 2006, 04:57 PM
Hopefully Karimov is next. It is quite sad how much support he and Turkmenbashi got from western countries.

Epigone
Dec 21st, 2006, 05:02 PM
Hopefully Karimov is next. It is quite sad how much support he and Turkmenbashi got from western countries.He boils people to death :help:

Qrystyna
Dec 21st, 2006, 05:10 PM
He boils people to death :help:

That's what they say, and it sounds quite accurate.... some of my family still lives there (my father is from there) and they confirm that he is definitely as oppressive as people say.

Check this out: (warning, VERY GRAPHIC pictures)
http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article3943.htm

And I'm surprised this doesn't anger more people:
http://www.thememoryhole.org/pol/us-and-uz.htm

©@®eLess
Dec 21st, 2006, 05:52 PM
Hopefully Karimov is next. It is quite sad how much support he and Turkmenbashi got from western countries.

Sad! Come on Saddam Hussein was a friend of USA in 1980's when Iraq fought Iran...and then they wonder...Why is everyone against them. What u give is what u get...stop complaining!

selesfan1
Dec 21st, 2006, 05:59 PM
Hmmm, I know people who did peace corps in Turkmenistan and they said that he wasn't all that bad besides having 747's to take people all over the country and making his little pink book a must read. Maybe they were brainwashed. I have heard he has been named as one of the top 10 worst dictators time after time but I really don't know waht would merit him that.

Lord Nelson
Dec 21st, 2006, 06:38 PM
The Turkmen leader was a mini Kim Yong il though even Kim did not have golden statues of himself and one that would always face the sun. The stupid thing is that guards will have to guard his statues for 24 hours because people would otherwise steal that gold. Apparently he also wanted to build an ice palace in the desert but I don't think that happened otherwise we would have seen pictures of that insanity.

The Turkmen and Ukbek leaders are real autocrats but the alternative to them are radical islamists especially in Uzbekistan. The people he squashed down a few years ago were Islamists. I did not know that pratfan was Turkmen but from what I see the Turkmen leader was far worse than the Uzbek one. In fact I think he was the worst of all the post Soviet leaders, by far. But if the int. community were against him it could radicalize his country. In any case, beng against him would not have changed much. Just look at Belarus. Ukraine was luckier because it is a rival of Russia and is neighbour of Poland which is part of EU. So is Belarus but it is almost a satellite of Russia.

Qrystyna
Dec 21st, 2006, 07:15 PM
No, I am not turkmen, I am actually part Russian, but my father came from Uzbekistan which has a large russian minority.

*JR*
Dec 21st, 2006, 08:49 PM
I did not know that pratfan was Turkmen but from what I see the Turkmen leader was far worse than the Uzbek one. In fact I think he was the worst of all the post Soviet leaders, by far.
What about Hitler-lover Aleksandr Lukashenko of Belarus?

Lord Nelson
Dec 21st, 2006, 09:20 PM
What about Hitler-lover Aleksandr Lukashenko of Belarus?
Belarus is in a better state economically than Turkmenistan. Though he is eccentric, Lukashenko has not created golden statues of him like the 'Turkmenbashi', or other oddities. In fact I think there are no statues of Lukachenko in Belarus. I have heard of statues of the founder of the KGB who was from Belarus but he is dead. The Turkmenbashi can be compared with the despots from North Korea whereas Luka can be compared with Hugo Chavez since he too is into populism and socialism but tends to have an aggressive streak like chavez.

Warrior
Dec 22nd, 2006, 08:25 PM
http://news.independent.co.uk/world/asia/article2094676.ece

Yesterday, Dmitrij Rupel, Slovenia's foreign minister, recalled an odd encounter in the marbled and wood-panelled presidential palace in Ashgabat last year. Mr Rupel said that, when he was invited into the president's chandeliered office, Mr Niyazov "started to criticise my beard and asked whether I was from Iran".

OMG, what a creep!:haha: