20 years without the USSR. How is Turkmenistan today?
The country is happy with free gasoline, but are afraid to tell.
The European Union began negotiations with Ashgabat and Baku on the construction of the Trans-Caspian gas pipeline. Then Europe will be able to receive gas from Turkmenistan bypassing Russia. Moscow is against – first it is necessary to regulate the legal status of the Caspian. However, the process has gone, and soon the budget of Turkmenistan, and so big, will be replenished with millions of euros. Will life be better there?
Gas is the creator of independence.
On March 17, 1991, 95% of Turkmen citizens said yes to the referendum on the preservation of the Soviet Union. And already on October 27, 1991 the same 95% of Turkmen voted for independence.
… Exactly 15 years ago I flew on a business trip to Ashgabat. Neighbors were Turkmen businessmen. As usual, we drank brandy. Seeing the portrait of President Saparmurat Niyazov (oil painting hung on the door to the cockpit), I asked fellow travelers:
They exchanged glances with each other-at lightning speed.
“How not to love!” – the first phrase the businessmen said in chorus. – We have free salt, free water, gas is also free. Father dear! Yes, we pray for him every day!
Now you can not fly to Turkmenistan simply – since 1999 you need a visa, and it is not given to anyone very much. In any case, the embassy of Turkmenistan refused to ALL observers of the AIF, so for the article I had to use my sources. Yes, and calmly communicate with people in Ashgabat, a representative of the press now can not. It is necessary to have permission from the Ministry of National Security (MNS), otherwise a fine, a 14-day imprisonment and a deportation home. Each journalist is accompanied by an “escort” – an officer of the MNS, who decides: with whom to talk, with whom not. Passersby, when they saw the local chekist, gladly praise the good government. From 1990 to 2006, the country was ruled by ex-head of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Turkmenistan Saparmurat Niyazov – the parliament gave him the post of “lifelong president.” This man managed to quickly become famous for the entire former USSR due to his passionate love for his personality. He erected 14 000 (!) Statues, including one of pure gold, in the center of Ashgabat. Niyazov’s images were placed on Turkmen money – manats, he took the official title of “Turkmenbashi” – “father of all Turkmen”, and schoolchildren were obliged to swear an oath every morning before classes: “If I betray the great Saparmurat Turkmenbashi, let my heart stop.” The city of Krasnovodsk was renamed into Turkmenbashi. The president abolished the pension – “the children must support their parents themselves”, closed all the hospitals outside the capital (“We must be treated, let the doctors keep to Ashgabat”), banned the circus, opera and ballet with the motivation: “This is not for the Turkmen. I once was with my wife in Leningrad on the opera “Prince Igor”, so I did not understand anything at all. ”
“You see, the man went mad with boredom,” Gapur, a former employee of the Turkmen Ministry of Internal Affairs, who is now hiding in Moscow, explains to me. – Niyazov was a provincial party secretary – and suddenly became a god. He did not already know what to wish for, and eventually he drank it in black. Alcoholism and ruined the president – his heart stopped.
On December 21, 2006, Niyazov died in a dream. The body was transferred to the mosque-mausoleum “Spirit of Turkmenbashi”, built during the lifetime of “the father of all Turkmen”. The speaker of the parliament Ovezgeldy Atayev was to lead the country under the Constitution, but he was imprisoned for five years (there he was missing), and the siloviki made the president of the modest health minister – dentist Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov. A couple of years, the dentist arrested all those who brought him to power, and began to rule on his own. They returned their pensions, they removed the monuments of the former, they even allowed the Internet. The Turkmen believe, by the way, that Berdymukhamedov is the illegitimate son of Niyazov. When I answer that Niyazov is older than his “son” for only 17 years and hardly he could … – they object to me: Well, look how similar!
Central Asian communism.
… However, with the highly schizophrenic behavior of the supreme power, there are such social benefits in Turkmenistan that are not dared to dream of in Russia. For example, every driver can get 121 liters of gasoline per month for FREE (at a commercial price for gasoline costs 5 rubles.), Salt is really given without money, bread – at a symbolic price. Flight by plane from one city to another – 100 rubles. (!). Turkmen do not pay for housing, water, gas – electricity costs a large family of 28 rubles. per month. The loan for an apartment can be borrowed for 30 years at 1% per year! In addition, there are food cards – people with a small salary are allowed to buy with discounts rice, sugar and potatoes. Under Niyazov, there were no products on sale – I remember, in Ashgabat I was taken to an “elite” supermarket. They allowed them to go to special places of officials and leaders of cotton harvesting, they could buy food for a strictly stipulated amount. All the rest is purely for cards: instead of meat, according to Soviet tradition, in empty stores they offered to buy bones and fat.
What are your associations with Turkmenistan?
� None – 39% (108 votes)
� Turkmenbashi (Saparmurat Niyazov) – 37% (102 votes)
� The Karakum Desert – 15% (42 votes)
� Gas and oil – 9% (24 votes)
Total votes: 276.
The poll was conducted on the WWW.AIF.RU website.
“Now everything is on the market, but you will not clear up, the average salary is $ 150,” complains Gulya, the owner of the cafe in Ashgabat, who arrived on business in Moscow. – Prices for imported goods – as in Moscow. We produce little, except for melons: we even carry sheep from Iran. True, people are mostly satisfied with their power. Yes, they are afraid to criticize her: even a wife in bed whispering will not tell her husband “the president is bad” – what if that morning in the MNB will report? But people believe: for Central Asia we live perfectly. Of course, the authorities steal money, but it also pours us a little. In Uzbekistan – does not give anything. In Kyrgyzstan – coups, in Tajikistan – the war, it’s quiet here. The main thing is to not open your mouth – tell anecdote, then your bones will not be found.
Who was lucky after the collapse of the USSR, it’s Turkmenia – she got the richest reserves of natural gas. Every year, tens of billions of dollars arrive from the export to the treasury, and in the small republic only 5 million people live. If desired, the country would be drowned in luxury, like the Arab Emirates or Kuwait, where the average salary is $ 3,500. There’s nothing to drown in yet. But the Turkmens do not grumble. “Have you seen what luxury roads we have, beautiful houses, sparkling avenues, fountains? – the employee of the newspaper “Neutral Turkmenistan” asked me.
– So now it’s even better: the cities have been rebuilt anew, they just blossom. Our president is afraid of the press, does not give interviews? You know, the gods do not meet with journalists. Maybe we have power and stuff our pockets, but she does not forget to invest in the country. ” Here you can not argue – the street luxury in Ashgabat competes with the oil emirate of Dubai. However, according to the report of the CIA of the USA from 2008, 60% (!) Of the Turkmen – without work, many go to work on construction sites in Turkey. At the same time, crime in the country is zero. All the “thieves in the law” were shot. As one Turkmens told me, “so that they do not interfere with the government to steal.”
Where are the Russians?
In 1991, there were 210,000 Russians living in Turkmenistan. Now – three times less. There is no higher education in Russian, only one Russian school remained for the whole republic. For a time, local residents envied the Russian old people: they accepted Russian citizenship and they were paid a Russian pension. But in 2001 a scandal broke out. Turkmenbashi again got up on the wrong foot and canceled the agreement with Moscow on dual citizenship. Those who left a Russian passport, the authorities confiscated apartments – by law, foreign citizens can not own real estate. They were fired from their jobs, deprived of all benefits. Then this question was hushed up, but only for a while. Now MNB officers are inspecting Ashgabat-Moscow flights and, if they do not see a Russian visa in their passport, pull a man out of the plane, demanding to renounce Russian citizenship. Russian business in Turkmenistan is also unlucky – the Russian mobile company was simply shut down after it received three times as many subscribers as the state operator. Of course, they did not return the money – they say, this business was taken by one of the relatives of President Berdimuhamedov. And in Russia all politicians also were silent.
“Tiny Turkmenistan is now a gas empire,” Gapur grins. – And no one wants to quarrel with her. The European Union desperately criticizes Moscow, but always through the fingers looked at the “quirks” of Turkmenbashi, they do not care that hundreds of political prisoners are rotting in the basement of the MNB. They only care about cheap gas.
Gas is the real creator of Turkmenistan’s independence. However, billions of billions paid for the tranquility of the state, where people had crumbs from the bar table, and projects such as building a zoo with penguins, and an ice palace in the Karakum Desert. With the authorities of Turkmenistan in the world are considered, but they themselves do not listen to anyone, screwing nuts inside the country. So it will continue – until there is enough gas. And its enough …
The fate of politicians.
Saparmurat Niyazov. Member of the Politburo of the CPSU Central Committee, First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Turkmenistan. Since 1990
– President of Turkmenistan, since 1999 – for life. Five times he received the title of Hero of Turkmenistan. He announced that due to unique health he will live 120 years. He died in 2006 at the age of 66 due to heart problems.
Boris Shikhmuradov. Minister of Foreign Affairs of Turkmenistan, Deputy Prime Minister in 1995-2001. He fled abroad, led the opposition to Niyazov. In 2002, after the arrest and torture of his relatives, he returned to Turkmenistan and was sentenced to life imprisonment. Supposedly killed in prison – nothing is known about his fate.
“I do not need Turkmenistan or Russia”
I was in Moscow 10 years ago, when living in Turkmenistan became quite unbearable. First, by a decree of Turkmenbashi, a visa was introduced between our countries, then it turned out that we can go to Russia no more than 2-3 times a year, and then another decree was followed: to choose within one 2 months one citizenship – either of Turkmenistan or Russia. We, in fact, said – get out! I had to leave everything that I earned over 36 years of life, there. I could not sell an apartment or property. My daughter by that time had already studied in Moscow, and I, literally in what was, came to her. For 10 years now I have been trying in vain to get at least some status here, both work for 2-3 jobs, but can not earn even a rented apartment and food, because we are nobody! Our laws are as insensitive as they are there.
Konstantin Zatulin, Director of the Institute of the CIS:
– Independence did not save Turkmenistan from mistakes. One of the global ones is the inefficient use of colossal revenues from hydrocarbon production. A small country with rich natural resources wanted to become a Central Asian Kuwait. But this did not happen in 20 years. The common people live very poorly, the industry does not develop, there are few jobs. But much glamorous in the capital. And not everyone knows that when fountains are turned on, the water supply stops above the second floor in residential houses. Russian schools were closed down, the only thing that remained was the children of local chiefs who understand the meaning of good education. Gas-
the wire bypassing Russia can not be laid. Geography is such that it is very costly to lead it directly to the south, through the mountains.