Turkmenbashi Is Dead! Long Live Turkmenbashi!

Posted by Brandon |

Sad news out of Turkmenistan today. Saparmurat Niyazov, better known as Turkmenbashi, Father of All Turkmen, passed away from apparent heart failure. He was 66.

Turkmenbashi was one of the world's most fascinating and nutty authoritarian leaders. He created a cult of personality around himself that is unrivaled today. He named virtually everything after himself or his mother, including a meteorite, a month and the word for bread. He built statues and shrines to himself throughout the country like the one pictured above and the gold statue that sits atop the Neutrality Arch that turns 360 degrees to face the sun throughout the day.

During his time as President-For-Life, he made numerous decrees including...

  • Banning ballet and opera
  • Made all licensed drivers pass a morality test based on the Ruhnama, a quasi-religious text written by Turkmenbashi
  • Introduced a new Turkmen alphabet
  • Banned car radios
  • Banned lip synching
  • Banned news reporters from wearing makeup because he couldn't tell the difference between the men and women
I seriously considered using a picture of Turkmenbashi with the caption "Turkmenbashi says 'DOWN WITH PANTS!'" for my header when I switched templates but never found a good enough picture to use. Although I hate his oppressive regime and the freedoms that he has stripped from the already oppressed Turkmenistan citizenry, I also hate to see someone so interesting drop dead before he could really show off his crazy.


Tim V said...

I just stumbled on your blog from Blogography, and wanted to say thanks for introducing me to one of the world's most bizarre leaders- past, present or future.

Reading the Wikipedia entry, I now see how many Turkmen Melon Days I have foolishly let pass without scelebrating. 12. That number stopped growing today.