Monday, January 21, 2008

Freedom inches forward in Turkmenistan

Last year I praised the death of Turkmenbashi, (Saparmurat Niyazov) the lunatic former leader of Turkmenistan, who had a personality cult with the weirdest oppressive laws of any country on earth. Turkmenistan was looking like a second North Korea, until he died.

Now the Times reports that his replacement, Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov, who in one of his early moves legalised the internet, has now decided to remove bans on cinema, opera houses and circuses. He also would revitalise libraries. Opera, circuses, cinema and libraries were all either closed or starved of funding in the totalitarian state under Niyazov.

There is hope in Turkmenistan as the screws gradually come of, whilst it is far from being a bastion of freedom, the lunacy of the Niyazov era is over.

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