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Turkmen Authorities Stifle Media As Voters Head To The Polls

A portrait of Turkmen President Berdymukhammedov on a building in Ashgabat ahead of Sunday's parliamentary elections
A portrait of Turkmen President Berdymukhammedov on a building in Ashgabat ahead of Sunday's parliamentary elections
(PRAGUE / ASHGABAT) Harassment against civil society and independent journalists continues in Turkmenistan ahead of Sunday's parliamentary elections, RFE/RL reports:


"Since we upped our election coverage in recent weeks it's gotten worse," says RFE/RL Turkmen Service Director Oguljamal Yazliyeva. "The authorities are restricting the work of our correspondents and contributors by cutting off their telephones and monitoring their every move." Reporters Without Borders stated in a press release on Saturday that “the perpetuation of the regime’s police state methods show that the progress Turkmenistan has supposedly made in terms of democratization is in fact very limited and cosmetic.”

[Read the full interview with Oguljamal Yazliyeva: "Covering An Election In A Closed Country"]


Voters get little or no information about the candidates from Turkmen state media. Nonetheless, a Turkmen journalist told RFE/RL that she believes there won't be any problem with turnout on election day. "Usually, two or three days before the vote, local police officers go house to house and tell people to go to the polling stations on Sunday morning. People in Turkmenistan are afraid of the police, so they do what they are told."

[Read the full article: "Turkmen Voters Doubt Election Will Make Any Difference"]


Sazak Durdymuradov, a Turkmen journalist, teacher, and activist, had his candidacy to run in Sunday's elections rejected by Turkmen officials for unknown reasons. He told RFE/RL: "I am concerned about my own life and the life of my family members, as I was warned. I do not know the reason. What makes me upset is that I acted according to the law." Earlier this year, Durdymuradov was beaten and forcibly detained in a psychiatric clinic by secret police.

[Read the full interview: "'It's All the Same Games,' Turkmen Activist Says About Elections"]


RFE/RL’s Bruce Pannier writes: “It appears likely that the results of the December 14 elections will be of little consequence. The Turkmen president has supreme authority, with parliament serving as a rubber-stamping body.”

[Read full article ”Turkmen Parliamentary Elections Offer New Twists on Same Old Story”]


Turkmenistan ranks 171st out of 173 countries in the latest Reporters Without Borders (RSF) Press Freedom Index. The organization likened the press freedom situation in Turkmenistan to an “unchanging hell,” one “in which the population is cut off from the world and is subjected to propaganda worthy of a bygone age." On Thursday, RSF urged Turkmen President Berdymukhammedov to “implement reforms that show a real political desire for liberalization” in order to end the isolation of his country and his people.