The Short Distance Between Sanity And Madness In Turkmenistan

July 28, 2011. During March’s Norouz celebrations in Tehran, when Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov’s received a two-seater airplane from his Iranian counterpart, Mahmud Ahmadinejad, Jumageldi Mulkiyev made some odd scenes.

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RFE/RL Profile: Turkmenistan

RFE/RL correspondant Yovshan Annagurban arrived at Ashgabat International Airport early one October morning in 1997 planning to fly to Prague to participate in a journalism training seminar at RFE/RL’s headquarters. Instead he was arrested and imprisoned for 13 days, only to be released after international cries of outrage. Authorities had “found” a disk in his bag containing Turkmen military secrets. It had been planted.

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The Great President and an Artist

“Protection and support around me” is what his father probably said when he gave him the name Galkan (Shield). A soldier is a man who returned from war handicapped, soul which sought protection from his children. From his early childhood he attended the school of art. He never put down his paintbrush. He received his higher education in Tashkent and when he came to the village, his father had him marry a village girl in a huge celebration. Back then, he couldn't tell his father that he liked a girl where he'd been studying. After graduating, being proud of his children Galkan built a temporary house at the edge of the capital. While others were on gathering money, he was gathering books and getting on with his work. After he had six children members of the Trade Union, saying that he wouldn't ask for a residence himself acquired a flat for him in the middle of the Ashgabat.

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The Little Girl Selling Sunflower Seeds

I saw this little girl on a frosty winter day in front of the bridge to Ashgabat's Peace district. After that moment, she never left my eyes. It was early morning and people were rushing to work. The little girl with her child's chair was standing next to the bridge; not just standing but selling fried sunflower seeds. Skinny, seven or eight years old, instead of lying in a warm bed on early mornings or collecting her books to go to school, she was selling sunflower seeds at the bridge on a freezing winter morning. The cold wind flew through the little girl's coat to her thin chest and came to freeze her little legs. She was standing on the spot and jumping on the toes and heels of her shoes. Her headscarf bending showed her even poorer and weaker. I could have passed her without noticing or if I did might have ignored since lately there have been more and more children selling sunflower seeds. Children begging and showing hands was not a rarity either. People would be happy as long as their own children were not hungry, what other people's children did or how they endured did not concern them as much. But I couldn't pass that child. The truth is that she didn't let me walk on.

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The sun once rose from the west

The sun once rose from the west,
And to the east it set,
A Turkmen rode a mule instead of horse;
Which turned out to be a kicker...

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God's invisibility

God's invisibility's a blessing,
So much to bring about doubt that He is real.
Lest He, too, disappear,
He, too, besoiled by fear,
“I am not that I am, or so now I feel,”
The Divine would be shamed to confessing.
Or with riches, drugs, liquor, or sought-after post,
They'd pervert the godhead to figurehead at most.
God's invisibility's a blessing,
So much to bring about doubt that He is real.

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