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No political prisoners in Turkmenistan - Niyazov.

No political prisoners in Turkmenistan - Niyazov.

There are no political prisoners in Turkmenistan, Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov said at a press conference summing up the outcomes of Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko’s visit to Ashgabat.

"We do not have people arrested for political reasons. There are several people, wanted criminals, who stay abroad under the guise of refugees and spread filthy rumors," he said.

"Don’t believe all that written rubbish," Niyazov said.

Yushchenko said at the press conference, "Democracy, freedom, and liberty are not just empty words for me and my partners in the Ukrainian government coalition. We will defend the values in which we believe and for which we have struggled. I want to be honest with my children and my nation. Maybe what counts most is not just that some problems exist. What really matters is that there should be a will to overcome them, and Ukraine has such a will."

Yushchenko said he was satisfied with his talks with Niyazov.

The Ukrainian leader argued that there existed "great prospects for cooperation" under energy and other projects, and that specific short- term cooperation plans were likely to be drawn up within the next few years.

Niyazov said that, at the talks, Yushchenko proposed weapons modernization, anti-terrorism action, and training at Ukrainian and Turkmen higher educational establishments as cooperation fields.

Interfax March 23, 2005

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