Turkmen leader opens village, museum named after his father

Turkmenistan’s autocratic leader Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov opened a village and museum named after his father, state media said Saturday, the latest honour bestowed on the ruling family’s ageing patriarch. 

The new village north of the capital Ashgabat is home to several dozen two-story houses where police and other servicemen will live with their families, according to a report on state television. 

Berdymukhamedov was shown cutting a ribbon for the new village and showing off storage units full of meat, eggs and fruit while decked out in military attire.  

The head of Turkmenistan’s security council Charymyrat Amanov told the president that the honour was a tribute to the “selfless and impeccable” career of his father Myalikguly Berdymukhamedov — a career policeman.

Amanov praised the older Berdymukhamedov’s “special merits in educating young people in the spirit of devotion to the Motherland” and his “high moral qualities”.

Myalikguly Berdymukhamedov, 88, has been awarded multiple state honours during his son’s rule and his poetry has formed the basis for several popular songs. 

The museum in the new village is the second one honouring him with another housed inside a barracks where he once served as a policeman.

In 2017, Berdymukhamedov authored a book about his father and Turkmenistan’s police force called “Brave Guys are Born for Fortitude”.

But Berdymukhamedov, 63, has not yet gone as far as his eccentric predecessor Saparmurat Niyazov who renamed the month of April after his mother. 

It was changed back to April after Niyazov died and Berdymukhamedov — his former dentist and health minister — cemented control.

Berdymukhamedov regularly opens new accommodation for state officials despite an economic downturn that began with the 2014 oil price crash.

The practise is seen as a method of binding government officials to the authoritarian regime. 

Human Rights Watch said in September that state inaction in response to the economic drag of the coronavirus had “drastically exacerbated Turkmenistan’s pre-existing food crisis”. 

State officials have never acknowledged food shortages. 

Earlier this month Berdymukhamedov opened a large residential complex for civil servants with a six-metre gold leaf statue of a dog as its centrepiece.

The Alabai shepherd dog, like the Akhal-Teke horse, is a native breed that Berdymukhamedov has promoted as part of his leadership cult.