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Does this make Turkmenistan an orphan?
December 21, 2006 4:10 AM   Subscribe

Saparmurat Niyazov is dead. The self-designated "father of the Turkmen" was the absolute ruler of Turkmenistan for fifteen years, a minor middle-Asian country which would completely escape the notice of the West if it wasn't for Turkmenbashi's unique form of excess and its oil. Along with the usual human rights violations and wallowing in wealth -- an estimated $3 billion cached in private accounts -- he dedicated himself to reshaping Turkmen's philosophy and cosmology on a scale to inspire Kim Jong Il. Among his accomplishments are redefining the ages of Man and renaming the names of days and months after neutrality, the flag, and Turkmenbashi's mother. Who now will speak up for Turkmen Melon Day?
posted by ardgedee (42 comments total)

 
Fucking good news for the people of Turkmenistan, though I imagine it'll be decades before the country recovers.
posted by jack_mo at 4:27 AM on December 21, 2006


Men filled the streets sporting the beginnings of new beards whilst blasting their car stereos.

Is nice!
posted by ReiToei at 4:37 AM on December 21, 2006


Hehe...I wonder if his last, agonizing, moments were spent regretting the fact that he fired all of the nation's doctors and nurses.
posted by Optamystic at 4:41 AM on December 21, 2006 [1 favorite]


Good riddance to a bad man.
posted by spitbull at 4:51 AM on December 21, 2006


Most unfortunately, the country has no democratic institutions and painfully weak civil society. Although it will be hard to have something worse than this guy, without intense support from foreign governments, there is little hope for the development of a democracy. That means intense support for civil society development, legal reform, and democratic processes, NOT intense foreign support for whoever-gives-us-the-oil/bases, as has been the tendency in Turkmenistan's neighbors. Cheers, though! Even a clientelistic quasi-dictatorship is an improvement after this crazy man's reign.
posted by thirteenkiller at 5:00 AM on December 21, 2006


He later declared a ban on young men wearing beards and long hair.

Opera, ballet, listening to car radios and the playing of recorded music on television and at public events was forbidden.


Uhm..let's see

1. no dirty hippiez
2. no ghey stuff
3. supporting RIAA

Wow, that's a republican !

Jokes(?) aside, when such collossas asshole die they do leave a vacuum of power behind them, probably some corporation will buy the country.
posted by elpapacito at 5:01 AM on December 21, 2006


I somehow speed (mis)read his name as being 'Spaznut'.

Upon review of the links, i'll go with the first reading.
posted by rawfishy at 5:02 AM on December 21, 2006


Who now will speak up for Turkmen Melon Day?

I shall! And let this be our motto. Old Turkmen proverb, she say:

A woman for duty,
A boy for pleasure,
But a melon for ecstasy!
posted by PeterMcDermott at 5:19 AM on December 21, 2006 [1 favorite]


I wonder what'll happen to his personality cult, now that he's gone. I'm always curious about that sort of thing.
posted by ktrey at 5:54 AM on December 21, 2006


Did someone say oil?....... And they need democracy...... hmmmm..... third time is a charm.
posted by MapGuy at 6:07 AM on December 21, 2006


As far as I'm concerned, every day is melons day.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 6:30 AM on December 21, 2006


I read this article about Turkmenbashi last weekend - I think it's a fitting obituary:

"Nobody will ever know exactly how much of the country’s income from its huge reserves of oil and gas is being spent on the rise and rise of the folly in the sands, but there can’t be much change. The British ambassador in his guide book tut tuts at the madness of it all, and would rather see long-term plans being enacted to irrigate the entire country. But that’s why he’s a minor ambassador with an obscure posting, and why Turkmenbashi is Turkmenbashi."
posted by runkelfinker at 6:31 AM on December 21, 2006


I hope everyone has a good Justice Day in this month of Neutrality celebrating this news.
posted by Mach5 at 6:50 AM on December 21, 2006


I hope everyone has a good Justice Day in this month of Neutrality celebrating this news.

Justice Day? (Fires guns into the air) I plumb forgot! Whaddja git me?
posted by hal9k at 6:59 AM on December 21, 2006


I wonder what'll happen to his personality cult, now that he's gone. I'm always curious about that sort of thing.

The ancient Turkmen tradition is for the oldest male in each household to congregate in the central square at dawn and carry the cult up to the sacred mountain for burial. They do not go to the top of the mountain, as you might think; they would consider that an insult to the Spirit of the Winds. Instead, they seek out a tree with a certain quality that makes it what they call öÿlenÿän ÿigit (literally 'bridegroom'); they will tell you the tree is ÿagty, or 'bright,' but what criteria they use to determine this has never been successfully explained. A group of them with experience in sacred singing performs selections from the Köroglu epic while an especially revered shaman selects the exact spot; when he points, they begin digging until they have a hole big enough to swallow the cult without trace. When they have covered it, there is another epic chant, after which they tie a ribbon of the same red as their finest carpets to a branch of the tree. The ribbon is replaced each year until, one day, the Turkmen nation is in great need of a hero; at that time (they say) the cult will free itself from its earthen dwelling, make its way to the central square, and envelop the first male it encounters. That person will then become Turkmenbashi, and all the months shall be renamed and the enemies of the Turkmen smitten.
posted by languagehat at 7:40 AM on December 21, 2006 [6 favorites]


Not to worry. The CIA's been all over this one for years.
posted by spock at 7:44 AM on December 21, 2006


lhat: Awsome.
posted by delmoi at 7:57 AM on December 21, 2006


Not to worry. The CIA's been all over this one for years.

It's a slam-dunk.
posted by chillmost at 7:58 AM on December 21, 2006


I wonder what'll happen to his personality cult, now that he's gone. I'm always curious about that sort of thing.

Well, the ancient Turkmen tradition is for the oldest male in each household to congregate in the central square at dawn and carry the cult up... ah, on preview, what languagehat said.
posted by flashboy at 8:12 AM on December 21, 2006 [2 favorites]


It's a slam-dunk.

Although I'd take Total Chaos and the points.
posted by spock at 8:26 AM on December 21, 2006


.
posted by found missing at 8:56 AM on December 21, 2006


First Pinochet, now Niyazov: truly a black week for meglomania.
posted by rhymer at 9:20 AM on December 21, 2006


YAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
posted by k8t at 9:30 AM on December 21, 2006 [1 favorite]


Aww, I wanted to see the country before he croaked too.

I hear that guy has a giant statue of himself that rotates so its always pointing to the sun. Oh, and I wanted to stock up on his special line of cologne, tea, and vodka.

At least the Turkmenistani people don't have to put up with his nuttiness anymore.
posted by champthom at 9:41 AM on December 21, 2006


This article, from 2002, was my introduction to the Turkmen cause, and I still refer to it as a model of foreign-affairs writing.

I wonder how Borat's cultural impact would have been different if he had "come from" Turkmenistan, which seems, in reality, like a better fit for his backstory than poor maligned Kazakhstan?
posted by bicyclefish at 10:07 AM on December 21, 2006


Hey, Kids ! Let's read some Ruhnama in english shall we ? All glory to Matt our most exhausted leader !
If you do not have a national state organization, a national policy, a national ideal which will enthuse and mobilize people, a national economy, a national civilization, a national army, then your condition cannot be described as full independence.
All hail Benito !
posted by elpapacito at 10:37 AM on December 21, 2006


If internet memes hold true, we stand to lose a third dictator sometime in the near future. Here's hoping.
posted by Pseudoephedrine at 10:47 AM on December 21, 2006


Niyazov was the gold standard in dictatorial lunacy. Days of the week, months of the year, the alphabet itself, no component of culture was too big or too small for him to meddle in it. The only person I can think of to compare him to in sheer egoism is L Ron Hubbard, but he never owned a country (although he made a half-hearted try with Greece once upon a time).
posted by scalefree at 11:52 AM on December 21, 2006


"The only person I can think of to compare him to in sheer egoism is L Ron Hubbard"

Christ, here come the lawyers again.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 11:57 AM on December 21, 2006 [1 favorite]


And a fourth, so Pinochet and Niyazov can play bridge in Hell.
posted by jtron at 12:05 PM on December 21, 2006


Death of Turkmen Dictator Gives The U.S. More ‘Options’ To Strike Iran
posted by homunculus at 12:41 PM on December 21, 2006


A Turkmen prayer:

Turkmenistan, my beloved motherland,
my beloved homeland!
You are always with me
in my thoughts and in my heart.
For the slightest evil against you
let my head be lost.

For the slightest slander about you
let my tongue be lost.
At the moment of my betrayal
to my motherland, to her sacred banner,
to my president let my breath stop.

posted by scalefree at 12:59 PM on December 21, 2006


Can't help being curious how such a psycho kleptocrat was formed. This gives a small part of his backstory. Born in the central Asian country on February 19th 1940, he lost his father to world war two and the rest of his family in an earthquake in 1948. Raised in an orphanage, he joined the communist party in 1962 and was elected as party chief in 1985.

Presumably this lunatic was a KGB puppet?

It's mind boggling that he was in power for 21 years.

This New Year's Eve party in Aşhkabat.
posted by nickyskye at 1:08 PM on December 21, 2006


As far as I'm concerned, every day is melons day.


Misogynist!!!
posted by spicynuts at 1:52 PM on December 21, 2006


!
posted by scarabic at 2:00 PM on December 21, 2006


(that's what you do instead of a . when you're glad the fucker's gone)
posted by scarabic at 2:01 PM on December 21, 2006


Now I really want to see the documentary the Times writer was shooting.
posted by smackfu at 2:02 PM on December 21, 2006


Among his accomplishments are redefining the ages of Man and renaming the names of days and months after neutrality, the flag, and Turkmenbashi's mother.

That's not a half-bad idea:

Mathowieary

Jessamyneary

Snark

DramaFilter

etc.
posted by jason's_planet at 2:20 PM on December 21, 2006


From the works of Turkmenbashi:
Today's Turkmens, you must never pass gas indoors. To do so is the mark of an uncouth peasant. If you must pass gas, you must never turn to your nephew, extend your index finger, chuckle and order him to pull your extended finger. All gas must be passed out of doors. This is the mark of modern hygeine and living according to scientific principles. By following these principles, the Turkmen nation will attain the destiny Allah has decreed it.

It goes without saying, of course, that all those who accuse the Turkmenbashi of emitting particularly rank intestinal gas, especially at the recent banquet with the North Korean ambassador, are traitors and CIA agents. Do not heed their slander, today's Turkmens, for they attempt to divide our nation.
posted by jason's_planet at 2:29 PM on December 21, 2006


I wonder which dictator's death we'll be celebrating next!
posted by clevershark at 6:52 PM on December 21, 2006


Then again this one's health is a bit questionable these days.
posted by clevershark at 6:53 PM on December 21, 2006


Good riddance to bad rubbish. Now we just need to see what's going to happen to Islam Karimov and his wacky daughter....
posted by eparchos at 8:03 PM on December 21, 2006


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