Monday, August 31, 2015


The names that politicians give their parties are often an indication of what they are pretending to be, but which in reality could not be further from their aspirations. The Communist Soviet Union which did more to discredit the ideals of communism than Joe Macarthy could ever have done; the Thais Love Thai party; various People's Parties around the world; and in Turkmenistan, from his rise to power in 1990 with the fall of Communism, until his death in 2006, the so-called Democratic Party under Saparmurat Niyazov.

Perhaps he simply understood democracy differently from the rest of us. To have universal adult suffrage in a one-party state in which not turning up to vote is not an option – well, that means the government was elected by 100% of the people, which is surely democracy at its best. "Eccentric dictator" is the favoured term to describe him, though he insisted on Turkmenbashi, which means "Father of the Turkmen", a variation on Abraham really, which meant "Father of Many Peoples"; so if we think of Niyazov as a megalomaniacal egotist for wanting to be the patriarch of just a single ethnic group, where does that leave the father of Judaism, Christianity and Islam in the group therapy ward?

Niyazov had himself declared President for Life in 1999, and then dedicated himself to making Turkmenistan a great country, by using all the income from its vast gas and oil reserves to build a kingdom of the future (including a 2,000 square kilometre artificial lake in the Karakum desert), unfortunately at the expense of the kingdom of the present, which became impoverished, physically anyway; not spiritually, because everyone had read (everyone was expected to have read) his great philosophical work, Ruhnama.

Mercifully, Niyazov was granted an early welcome in Paradise in 2006, where no doubt he is working to have his Ruhnama replace the Quran as the first book on the celestial library, and himself seated where Muhammad has usually expected to sit, though whether the bleach and toothpaste (see photo) accompanied him on his journey to the afterlife remains a matter of speculation, as is the current status of the paradisal calendar, which is believed to still use the traditional names of the months, though Niyazov is likely to be recommending the same change that he introduced in Turkmenistan, where the months of the year are now named for himself, his mother, and the chapter headings of the "Ruhnama". A full and unexpurgated translation of the Ruhnama into English, including quotes from Chairman Mao, can be found here. It is, without rival, the most incomprehensible work of literature ever set to paper, or even to digital blog, by man, moron, or divinity.

Niyazov's successor, Kurbanguly Berdymuhamedov, has thankfully not renamed any months after himself; or at least, not yet...nor has he torn down any of the Niyazov statues, nor repackaged the vodka bottles bearing Niyazov’s portrait as their brand-name, though work has started...just click here for a flavour. The trouble is, as those pictures also indicate, the new man is simply replacing the old order with his personal new order, and continues to advocate for the "Ruhmana" as a fit choice for youth education, so expect the publication of his great sequel very soon, and the renaming of the months of the year soon afterwards.

Marks for: 1 (the death of Saparmurat Niyazov)

Marks against: 192 (1 for every month of the year, multiplied by the number of years in which he ruled)

Copyright © 2015 David Prashker
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The Argaman Press

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