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Predators of Press Freedom: Turkmenistan - Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov

Publisher Reporters Without Borders
Publication Date 3 May 2011
Cite as Reporters Without Borders, Predators of Press Freedom: Turkmenistan - Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov, 3 May 2011, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4dc2b523c.html [accessed 17 September 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov, Turkmenistan

In four years as president, Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov has failed to show that more freedom of expression is a priority, despite his promises of reform to break with the weirder aspects of the legacy of his predecessor, President-for-Life Saparmurat Niyazov, whom he served as both health minister and personal dentist. He said in 2010 he favoured a multiparty system and privately-owned media, but the gap between words and deeds in one of the world's most brutal and absolute dictatorships is very wide. Despite opening up the economy and playing Russia and Western countries off against each other, state control of the country's five TV stations, 25 newspapers and 15 magazines is absolute and even Russian TV stations that can be picked up in Turkmenistan are censored before being relayed to local viewers. The number of journalists and human rights activists in prison or psychiatric hospitals is unknown.

Activity at a handful of recently-opened Internet cafés is very closely monitored and they only give access to a highly-censored version of the Web called Turkmenet. A monthly private broadband subscription is an absurd $7,000 and the government restored its monopoly of the mobile phone network in December 2010. The army was called in to quell riots in front of the offices of mobile phone company Altyn Asyr protesting against a shortage of SIM cards. Turkmenistan continues to be one of the world's most repressive states and its population as isolated as ever.

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