Thursday, December 21, 2006

Turkmenbashi, how we missed you

People loved Borat, but for my money the country that truly deserved mockery is Turkmenistan, not Kazakhstan. Ruled by a - let's be honest - totally batshit crazy "former" Communist with delusions of Stalinism, Turkmenistan would be totally screwed if not for the vast deposits of oil and gas. Turns out dear leader - who had a real name, but I'll always remember him as "Turkmenbashi" - died last night. Expect unpleasantness to follow:
ASHGABAT, Turkmenistan: President Saparmurat Niyazov, who controlled vast energy reserves and lent support to Washington's war on terror, was a deeply eccentric dictator who fostered a personality cult that included making his countrymen call him "Turkmenbashi" — The Father Of All Turkmen.

He died Thursday at age 66 after two decades in power, leaving behind a power vacuum that could destabilize a volatile and strategic region of significant interest to Russia, Europe, China and the United States....

Among Niyazov's decrees were bans on lip-synching, car radios and the playing of recorded music at weddings. He once ordered doctors to stop taking the Hippocratic Oath and swear allegiance to him instead.
Oh, and dude renamed the month of January after himself.

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