Turkmenistan: Pride without a fall, with Covid-19 no match for the president

On December 23rd 1995 the United Nations General Assembly unanimously adopted a resolution that recognized Turkmenistan as a permanently neutral state. This process into obscurity and ultimate hermitude had in effect begun three years previously, when a newly independent Turkmenistan outlined the strands of its foreign policy at the Organization for Security and Cooperation in…

Turkmenistan: Is Afghanistan aid programme an exercise in financial expediency by President Berdymukhamedow?

Not known as a man whose conscience unduly troubles him when it comes to the plight of his fellow Turkmen, President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedow has instead turned his attention to neighbouring Afghanistan in what appears to be an unprecedented act by the former dentist of humanitarian assistance to an outside nation. Turkmenistan has firmly established itself…

Turkmenistan: What is behind Germany’s continual dance with the devil?

As one of more than 130 countries participating in the Frankfurt Heimtextil international textile expo Turkmenistan cannot be singled out for favouritism by the host nation Germany, but nevertheless the link between President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedow's closed, authoritarian state and Angela Merkel's Teutonic powerhouse remains strong, but all the while disconcertingly baffling. The Azerbaijan-based AzerNews portal…

Turkmenistan and North Korea: Autocratic regimes rely on opacity and agendas to oppress citizens and bamboozle those on the outside

Once again we visit Turkmenistan, the land of irony, where truth and fiction become entwined to a point where there can be little to differentiate these polar opposites. Every bad guy needs a patsy, someone who will take the rap when merely following orders - usually on the pain of death, imprisonment or some other…

Turkmenistan: A presidential portrait of modern-day narcissism wrapped in despotism

In 2004 the Harvard Business Review called it right. Their take on narcissists concluded that the vainglorious are "unproductive when, lacking self-knowledge and restraining anchors, they become unrealistic dreamers. They nurture grand schemes and harbour the illusion that only circumstances, or enemies block their success". Does all this sound terribly familiar, even in the modern…

Turkmenistan: President Berdymukhamedow’s flights of fancy receive foreign assistance

With a little help from their friends Turkmenistan Airlines are once more airborne, undoubtedly to the delight of President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedow's family. In an era of meticulous attention to safety detail it is indeed rare for an airline's jets to be hooked from European airspace, but February's barring of the Turkmen flag carrier from operating…

Ignorance is no defence for celebrities taking money from oppressive regimes

I have said it before: what was Jack Nicklaus thinking? History is littered with autocratic regimes seeking legitimacy through celebrity endorsements, often exploiting the ignorance of those who have pitched up in good faith but only later find a wave of condemnation highlighting at best a hitherto unawareness of the firestorm such appearances create; at…

Turkmenistan: When seeing is not believing in a land of (totalitarian) pretence

The continued bizarre, contrary modus operandi of Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedow again highlights the former dentist's despotic hold over the former Soviet republic. Self-styled as a deity predestined to shepherd the nation to greatness through his many initiatives that often amount to little more than yet another Potemkin-esque, white elephant construction project, Berdymukhamedow's absolute grip…

The UK: Bilateral trade and economic cooperation placed ahead of Turkmenistan’s many Human Rights violations

A meeting held in Ashgabat between Turkmenistan's Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Rashid Meredov, and the UK Parliamentary Under Secretary for the Department of Digital, Media, Culture, and Sport, Lord Ashton of Hyde, amount to a tacit endorsement by London of President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedow's totalitarian regime, one squarely accused of countless human…