Gurbanguly Berdimuhammedow

Trevor Campbell

Gurbanguly Berdimuhammedow, the former deputy prime minister of Turkmenistan, was sworn into office last Wednesday after winning 90 percent of the vote in elections that were hardly free or fair. His predecessor, Saparmurat Niyazov, was known for his repressive tactics and peculiar personality cult. Calling himself Turkmenbashi, meaning Father of All Turkmen, he renamed months and cities after himself and family members, and he wrote a two-volume book that citizens were required to read. It’s unclear how much change Berdimuhammedow’s tenure will actually bring, but compared to his Niyazov, anything is progress.

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