Jan 9, 2009

Walks Like a Duck



Turkmenistan may no longer look as much like a duck, or even talk as much like one, but underneath its makeover it continues to walk like one.

Since the death of its longtime leader, Saparmurat Niyazov (aka Turkmen Bashi), Turkmenistan has taken numerous steps to clean up its image as a bedraggled dictatorship. Most recently, the image of its former leader has been taken off the national currency (the manat) and is being replaced by other cultural heroes. In mid-December 2008, the national anthem was also edited to remove all mentions of the "Father of Turkmenistan." Also in mid-December, there was an unprecedented parliamentary election which was reportedly held in accordance with electoral laws and (according to Russian observers) "democratic norms." Although I didn't realize it was normal to predetermine a list of candidates all from one party to participate in an election.

Under the leadership of President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov, Turkmenistan has also changed its rhetoric to become more acceptable for foreign investors. Turkmenistan has been more open to cooperating in controlling the illegal drug trade and has been instrumental in proposing and international energy security bill at the United Nations.

At the same time, however, RFE/RL Correspondent Osman Hallyev has essentially been placed under house arrest and there has been little improvement on human rights. Activists continue to be jailed and speech or political participation still remains at a minimal.While this duck-tatorship (excuse the horrible pun) may have changed its image and tune, it should not be ignored that Turkmenistan has continued to walk much like the duck of old.

5 comments:

Pirates(and)Diplomats said...

And we were *this* close to relocating the Eternal Remont bunker to Turkmenistan.

Ern said...

Did BabaYaga just coin "duck-tatorship"? Because that's an amazing word.

Pirates(and)Diplomats said...

I think she did.

Leopolis said...

The Ducktatorship is already over, i.e. Poland in 2006-2007 when the Brothers Kaczynski (kaczka = duck in Polish) ruled the country like a double-headed duck.

I'm amazed of the lightning-paced transition from cult-worshiping totalitarian dictatorship to deturkmenbashization. Only a period of some 20 years? Think of how long it took in Stalin's USSR for this to happen or how it still hasn't happened in the Kim clan's North Korea.

Pirates(and)Diplomats said...

See, why do you have to throw down over Poland.

You know it's just going to start a war over who's more of a duck.

Duck baiter...

=)