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Turkmenistan

Turkmenistan cools to ’Great Leader’ cult.

Turkmenistan cools to ’Great Leader’ cult.

Turkmenistan’s new leader called on Friday for doing away with the more repetitive aspects of the late Saparmurat Niyazov’s personality cult.

Niyazov, who died in December, constructed an exotic personality cult where he was known as Turkmenbashi (Father of the Turkmen). His image and lengthy musings on life were repeated everywhere in the Central Asian desert nation.

President Kurbanguly Berdymukhamedov, inaugurated on pledges to continue Niyazov’s line, told ministers the leader should no longer be met with singing school children, dancers and an oath to the leader.

"When going anywhere, children sing in front of the president, dancers perform. Let’s get rid of that. There are festivals for that kind of thing," Berdymukhamedov told ministers in comments shown on national television.

Berdymukhamedov, who served as a minister and aide to Niyazov for 10 years, said an oath to the president did not need to be repeated at every opportunity.

Under Niyazov, all official events from school parties to parliamentary sessions, started with the oath.

"Do we need to everywhere repeat this oath? I think that children, for example, could (repeat the oath) when they first go to school. Let’s not do it after every event," Berdymukhamedov said.

Reuters March 9, 2007

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