Thursday, May 30, 2019

‘The Price of Dictatorship’ -- A Third of Turkmenistan’s People Has Left in Last Decade

Paul Goble

            Staunton, May 30 – Turkmenistan, one of the most repressive countries in the world that seldom reveals much information about itself, has seen a third of its population flee abroad over the last ten years, anonymous but well-connected sources have told Radio Liberty’s Turkmen Service (

            Their flight, Moscow’s Novyye izvestiya says, represents “the price of dictatorship” and an indictment of a regime that has so oppressed its own people that so many of them have concluded they have no hope except to flee abroad (

            According to three sources with good access, 1,879,413 Turkmens left Turkmenistan between 2008 and 2018.  A sizeable portion of this number are working age adults, reducing the ability of the Turkmenistan economy to function or to pay for the large number of children and growing number pensioners.

            The sources say that the size of the exodus was far greater than the Turkmenistan regime expected. When it was presented with them earlier this year, it immediately classified them lest anyone would find out just how bad things are and detained some of the statistical administration officers who had prepared the study.

            Turkmenistan has been chary about collecting data – it had a census only in 2012 and has said it will only have another one in 2022 – and even more reluctant to release the data it has gathered. The Turkmenistan media almost never provide any reporting about the issue, although one thing that tends to confirm the exodus: housing prices are collapsing in the republic (

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