Where's Your Revolving Statue Now, Saparmurat?

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"The Father of Turkmenistan," Saparmurat Niyazov, is dead, and the Economist has the most pithy take on his sadly-not-unique style of plutocracy.

Mr Niyazov styled himself the Turkmenbashi, or "father of Turkmen", and wasted resources building up a bizarre personality cult. Ashgabat, the capital, is a surreal showpiece of grandiose, neo-Stalinist buildings of gleaming white marble, with giant portraits and gold statues of the Turkmenbashi everywhere—including one, arms aloft, that constantly revolves through 360 degrees, so that it always faces the sun. Behind the glitz lies a grim reality; rutted tracks leading from four-lane highways to windowless, one-room homes, including converted railway containers, surrounded by debris and animals.

Niyazov's death has been played for laughs, but replace the goofy passages with grim ones—trade "gold statues" for "mandatory party membership cards for people claiming food aid"—and you've got yourself Zimbabwe. That's the magazine's take, too, as dictators spent 2006 getting sicker and sicker. Pinochet—dead. Castro—getting there. Mugabe—he's got a retirement date, at least. That's very nice. But it raises the question of what the hell is going to happen to the worse-off countries if the leaders kick it. If you're a Taliban tired of getting boiled to death in Uzbekistan and chased around Pakistan, Turkmenistan surely looks pretty good right now.

NEXT: The Government Fix

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  1. Weigal is just shilling for Niyazov’s opponents!

  2. If your country ends in -stan there’s a very good chance that it’s one fucked-up place.

  3. Niyazov was my kind of despot. He renamed towns, months and days of the week after himself and family members. Dictators should be all about self-aggrandizement.

  4. Has The Nation done a glowing retrospective on him yet?

    On second thought, looks like something else that Istv?n De?k of The New Republic can blame on the United States: ‘Reagan lied, Turkmenistanis died’ and all that.

    Perhaps Lee Siegel can chime in about fascism and toss in some astroturfing?

    Mix in a little Fairbanksing over at The Examiner and careers bigger than Woodward and Burnstein could be built.

  5. Seriously, someone smarter than me should put a lof thought into a creative and spectacular method for ransacking his remains.

    Perhaps the city’s rats should all be kept alive and transported to feast on the flesh of his rotting body. Or something.

    Dictators should learn that the more they attack and steal and gloat during their lives, the more they will be despised, humiliated, and defiled after death.

    Given this guy’s megalomania, a prior credible commitment to have monkees ass-fuck his corpse may be the only thing that could’ve saved Turkmenistan.

  6. “Has The Nation done a glowing retrospective on him yet?”

    Wow Guy. Pretty funny in an awkward sort of way. Do you do Barmitzvahs?
    Oh, and thanks for the links. I just suspected you were a tool before. Thanks for the confirmation. Can you interpret some more articles for me so that I don’t have to read them?

  7. Face-thingy-guy,

    There was a book out a few years ago titled “Trashcanistan,” about former Soviet Republics in central Asia. You might be onto something.

    “Has The Nation done a glowing retrospective on him yet?”

    Back in the real world, the Nation has spend the last five years poiting out how snuggly the Bush administration has been with this bastard.

  8. Given this guy’s megalomania, a prior credible commitment to have monkees ass-fuck his corpse may be the only thing that could’ve saved Turkmenistan.

    Well, I’ll never be able to get the image of Micky, Davy and the gang lining up to commit necrophilia out of my mind.

    Its seared, I tell ya! Seared into my memory.

  9. joe,

    Shouldn’t that be ‘spended’?

  10. pinko,

    Thank you for your input. Please note that this “tool” actually provides links to the stories that he is criticizing, as opposed to some Examiner writers, so that one can easily check me against the source.

    Just the kind of tool I try to be.

    Others,

    Yes, that was my knee-jerk reaction against The Nation. Forgot about that business about anybody who speaks to the Bush Administration is automagically ‘evil’ (even if they are evil) and anybody the Bush Administration shuns is automagically good (even if they are evil).

    R C Dean,

    That was the FUNNIEST post I have seen here in weeks!

  11. Well, I’ll never be able to get the image of Micky, Davy and the gang lining up to commit necrophilia out of my mind.

    AUGH! Nicely done, you conservative bastard. 🙂

  12. R C is a magnificent bastard.

  13. The Times had a great piece about life in Turkmenistan published just last Sunday.

  14. There was a book out a few years ago titled “Trashcanistan,” about former Soviet Republics in central Asia. You might be onto something.

    Afghanistan, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.

    I rest my case.

  15. Guy,

    “Forgot about that business about anybody who speaks to the Bush Administration is automagically ‘evil’ (even if they are evil) and anybody the Bush Administration shuns is automagically good (even if they are evil).”

    You need to get over your partisan bullshit. The man boiled political dissenters to death, and we’re not supposed to think he’s evil, because you don’t like to see it pointed out that Bush cuts deals with evil dicatators?

    That was a really stupid comment about The Nation – it just demonstrated your own ignorance and bias. Your comeback just reinforces that image.

    Stop digging, please.

  16. joe,

    Ignoring Jennifer’s advice from another thread . . .

    The comments were about the hypocrisy of The Nation and how they will support tyrants. Wherever you got that nobody should think this one is evil, from my statements I do not know.

    No, I do not read them on a regular basis as I have read plenty of their nonsense to dismiss anything in their pages as pure partisan fiction or near fiction.

  17. “The comments were about the hypocrisy of The Nation and how they will support tyrants.”

    And the example you picked demonstrated exactly the opposite – that they attack and criticize tyrants. Ha ha.

    “No, I do not read them on a regular basis as I have read plenty of their nonsense to dismiss anything in their pages as pure partisan fiction or near fiction.”

    And that works out so well for you, as we can all see.

    This “I don’t need facts, I JUST KNOW” thing you people have been doing for the past few years – you need to let it go.

  18. joe,

    Your musings entertain me. Please keep them coming.

  19. R C is a magnificent bastard.

    It wasn’t that funny. 😉

  20. Eric the .5b,

    Was too. Infinity.

  21. Here’s hoping Islam Karimov is next.

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