Turkmenistan. According to COUNTRYAAH, Turkmenistan has a population of 5.851 million (2018). The gloss of deceased dictator Saparmurat Nijazov fell further during the year. Turkmenbasji the Great, as he was called, had his gold statue dismantled. His successor, President Gurbanguli Berdimuchammedov, ordered the 15-meter-high rotating gold statue to be removed from the 75-meter plinth in the capital city of Ashgabad.
But Berdimuchammedov had at the same time created a cult of personality around himself and gathered power in his own hands. When local elections were held at the end of the year, some polling stations were adorned with portraits of the single president.
Turkmenistan, which has the world’s fourth-largest gas reserves, expanded its oil and gas exports during the year to reduce dependence on the Russian market. In January, a new gas pipeline was opened from Turkmenistan to Iran, which was expected to more than double gas deliveries to Iran. In August, a number of foreign oil companies were offered concessions for oil extraction in the Caspian Sea, three US and one from Dubai. China’s state energy company CNPC has also been awarded a contract on the South Ioiotan field, and Turkmenistan hopes for increased economic cooperation with China.
In October, the head of the state gas company Turkmengaz was dismissed, the largest of its kind in Central Asia. The dismissed was accused of serious failure.
In 2012, the Electoral Act was amended, so that in 2013 for the first time in the country’s history elections were held for parliament with the participation of several parties. The election was held in December 2013. The ruling TDP got 47 of the parliament’s 125 seats, while the Party for Industrial and Business People got 14. The country’s LO got 33 seats, the Women’s Organization got 16 and the Youth Organization 8. Finally, civic groups got the remaining 7 seats. OSCE and Amnesty International criticized the election for not giving way to the country’s opposition.
In April 2015, the country launched its first TV satellite, TurkmenSat 1. That same month, the regime banned all private satellite antennas. It happened as part of the establishment of a total news monopoly.
In September 2016, a new constitution was adopted that extended the presidential term from 6 to 7 years and removed an age restriction on eligibility.
Turkmenistan is considered by human rights organizations to be one of the world’s most repressive states. In 2016, journalists without the border placed the country at the bottom of the list of countries in terms of freedom of the press, and on the Press Freedom Index the country was in third place. However, the EU has good relations with the country. Turkmenistan must supply gas to the EU to reduce its dependence on Russian gas. Likewise, the United States is particularly subdued in its criticism of the dictatorship.