Saturday, June 30, 2018

A Very Bad Day in Turkmenistan

Paul Goble

            Staunton, June 29 – Turkmenistan, far and away the most brutally repressive of any of the post-Soviet states and one whose rulers behave much as the Kims do in North Korea, seldom gets much attention except as being a frontline state facing the Islamist radicals in Afghanistan or as a source of natural gas for the West.

            But no one should forget in their rush to cooperate with Ashgabat on either of these things just how horribly repressive that country now is. The last few days alone have featured five stories that highlight this reality. They deserve mention as part of the continuing tragedy that has been visited on the people of Turkmenistan by its rulers.

            They include:

1.      Ashgabat’s special services now listens to all telephone calls made by anyone in Turkmenistan (

2.      The Turkmenistan government is currently going after and seizing satellite dishes in the villages so that people there cannot get television from abroad (

3.      Although Ashgabat has denied, many people find credible reports that the Turkmenistan government is doing all it can to keep young men from fleeing the country by raising prices on transportation and calling them in for “conversations” with the secret police (

4.      The food situation in the Turkmenistan army is so dire that parents of young men serving there now have to take food to their sons lest they starve (

5.      Turkmens studying abroad are complaining that agents of the Ashgabat government are not only monitoring them but engaging them in conversations designed to ensure that they will return home unradicalized (

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