Democracy and rights
Turkmenistan’s constitution provides for the country to be a democratic republic, but in reality it is a one-party state where regime critics are persecuted. The elections held are not considered free and fair and do not meet international standards. According to Reporters Without Borders, Turkmenistan is the second worst in the world on freedom of the press (only North Korea is worse).
Fundamental human rights are guaranteed in the Constitution, but they are formulated so that restrictions can be easily made. Freedom House gives Turkmenistan the worst possible rating in respect of the political and civil rights of its residents.
- Countryaah: Offers a comprehensive list of airports in Turkmenistan, including international airports with city located, size and abbreviation, as well as the biggest airlines.
Abbreviated as TKM by Abbreviationfinder, Turkmenistan is governed by an authoritarian and repressive regime, whose security service the National Security Committee (KNB) and the Ministry of the Interior work closely together and regularly seize regime critics and quash political opposition. The vast majority of regime opponents are in exile. Those in the country are being persecuted. Citizens may be prohibited from leaving the country.
A human rights ombudsman has existed since 2018, but he was appointed by the president, which makes his independence strongly questioned.
Human rights organizations and environmental movements have little opportunity to operate, and foreign organizations are in practice banned. Human rights activists have been sentenced to long prison terms.
The Turkmen state administration and society at large are permeated by corruption. In 2019, Transparency International ranked Turkmenistan number 165 out of 180 countries in its corruption index in the world (see full list here). That was four investments worse than the year before. There is an authority to work against corruption.
Freedom of expression and media
Freedom of the press is guaranteed in the Constitution and in a media law from 2013, but it does not exist in practice. All mass media is tightly controlled by state power.
The law of 2013 provides that no one can prohibit media from disseminating information in the public interest and all citizens are stated to have the right to use the media to express their views. Censorship is prohibited in the law text.
Nevertheless, Reporters Without Borders describes the situation of freedom of the press in Turkmenistan as very serious. In the media organization’s index of freedom of the press in the world, Turkmenistan is placed in the absolute bottom layer: in 2019, the country was ranked 180 out of 180 countries, that is, the worst in the world. By 2020, the country was second worst, while North Korea was given the bottom rank (see full list here).
Everything that contradicts the government’s policy is stopped, and the supply of radio, newspapers and TV is equal. All important newspapers are linked to the regime’s power apparatus. It is difficult to get hold of foreign newspapers and magazines. Opposition newspapers published abroad are confiscated. All printing presses in the country must be registered.
The few regime-critical journalists who dare to work for underground media abroad risk everything from death threats, beatings and other harassment to arrests, torture and imprisonment. The self-censorship within the journalist corps is significant.
Turkmen Internet users only have access to a highly censored version of the Internet.
Judicial system and legal security
According to the constitution, the judiciary is supposed to be independent of state power, but in practice it is subordinate to the president. The members of the Supreme Court are appointed by the President.
Torture and ill-treatment in prisons is commonplace and political prisoners have died in their cells. The conditions in certain detention centers and prisons are described as inhumane. Foreign inspectors are refused to visit prisons. The death penalty was abolished in 1999.
The impunity for police officers and employees in the security service KNB is widespread. It is still unclear what happened to some 80 missing prisoners who were arrested following an alleged assassination attempt at then President Saparmurat Nijazov in November 2002. The remains of three of them (all civil servants) were returned to relatives in 2018 after they died in prison.
Turkmen celebrate the Day of the Horse
When large parts of the world are pursuing so-called social distancing because of the corona pandemic, the Turkmen gather at the hippodrome in the capital to celebrate the annual Horse Day (see Customs and customs). President Berdimuhamedow oversees the horse races in the protection of a kind of booth while the other festival visitors crowd around the race tracks. According to the Turkmen authorities, the country still does not have a single case of covid-19.
“No coronary infection”
The regime says there are no cases of the new coronavirus sars-cov-2 in Turkmenistan, despite the virus causing a pandemic and the country bordering on the severely corona-affected Iran. The Turkmen regime has given the same kind of response when it comes to the spread of HIV / AIDS.
Powerful minister dismissed
President Berdimuhamedow dismisses Jalim Berdyev from the post of Minister of the powerful Ministry of Security. Berdyev, who has held the position of power since 2018, is replaced by Deputy Minister of Security Gurbanmyrat Annajev. The reason for the change of minister is unknown, but Berdyev should have received a warning of “shortcomings” in January. At the same time, Berdyev is downgraded to a lower military rank and loses his post as secretary of the National Security Council. In October 2019, Berdimuhamedow dismissed his Interior Minister Isgender Mulikov after ten years in office. Mulikov was later seen admitting corruption crimes in the state television, with a shaved head and in handcuffs.