My Beloved Turkmen Nation!
April 25, 2010 9:16 AM   Subscribe

In the capital of Turkmenistan stands an enormous statue of a book. Every evening at 8PM, the statue swings open and a recently deceased dictator's magnum opus, the Ruhnama, is broadcast throughout the square while a video from within the statue shows his image. Four years after the death of Turkmenbashi, the state continues to portray his book as a sacred text and has coerced foreign business partners to translate it into 22 languages. A team of Finnish filmmakers snuck into Turkmenistan to discover the continued presence of the Ruhnama. (YouTube, 10 parts, part 5 has no audio)
posted by shii (15 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite

 
Thank you thank you thank you. I've had a weird fascination with Turkmenistan for years---I even ordered a copy of the Ruhnama off eBay---so this hits my sweet spot exactly.
posted by Bromius at 9:35 AM on April 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


I was reading excerpts from it last night from a link in another thread. The guy is a nut and a straight-up ethnic nationalist dictator stereotype to boot.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 9:55 AM on April 25, 2010


For those wanting to jump straight to video of the giant book swinging open...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LK7tB54qfx8#t=4m29s
posted by bobo123 at 9:57 AM on April 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


I forgot to mention that towards the end of this documentary they read the Ruhnama out loud in New York, piquing the interest of onlookers for a few seconds until a guy runs past them doing something even nuttier.
posted by shii at 10:00 AM on April 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


And look! You can buy it on Amazon!

According to some, "It is filled with such flaccid ghost-written text that it makes Leviticus seem like an action thriller." However, at least one person thinks "If there was ever a literary work that could transform society, promote moral and spiritual upliftment, and lay the foundation for a 'new' religion of peace and prosperity - it is Ruhnama." Although perhaps steve1151 only feels that way because he hasn't read any other books.
posted by Afroblanco at 10:22 AM on April 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's, um, very Vegas.
posted by Artw at 10:31 AM on April 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


This is pretty fascinating. However part 5 is from the screwed and chopped version I think.
posted by palidor at 10:44 AM on April 25, 2010


... so it's like North Korea, only with oil?
posted by TWinbrook8 at 11:29 AM on April 25, 2010


More about steve1151. He even has a blog!
posted by eye of newt at 11:47 AM on April 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


The Turkmenbashi is really the crack-pot dictator's crack-pot dictator... not least for re-naming the months of the year and days of the week including some for himself and members of this family.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 1:01 PM on April 25, 2010


Every evening at 8PM, the statue swings open and a recently deceased dictator's magnum opus, the Ruhnama, is broadcast throughout the square while a video from within the statue shows his image.

That sounds a lot like bedtime at our place.
posted by pracowity at 1:22 PM on April 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


feels like putting palm on forehead
posted by infini at 1:41 PM on April 25, 2010


That documentary looks pretty interesting and well made. The hypocrisy of large corporations is hardly a new subject, but in the context of the insanity Turkmenistan it's almost laughably obscene.
posted by howfar at 2:57 PM on April 25, 2010


Watching the documentary piqued my interest in the relationship between the Finnish and Turkmen languages, which to my ears had some similarities (I mean- Ruhnama? It sounds like something you'd eat at a Finnish breakfast).

I guess there has been some controversy over the degree to which the languages are related.
posted by Esteemed Offendi at 7:14 PM on April 25, 2010


Also: an interesting travelogue about going to Ashgabat.
posted by mykescipark at 7:38 PM on April 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


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