Skip to comments.Golden Statues and Mother Bread: The Bizarre Legacy of Turkmenistan's Former Dictator
Posted on 02/06/2014 5:22:02 PM PST by Pan_Yan
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In a plaza on the southern outskirts of Turkmenistan's capital, Ashgabat, sits a rocket-shaped monument called the Arch of Neutrality. Towering 312 feet above the ground, it is topped with a 40-foot golden man in a suit who stands with his arms outstretched, surveying the land as a flag ripples behind him. His body language and facial expression convey something along the lines of, "Bring it on. I've got this."
The golden man is Saparmurat Niyazov, the quirk-riddled, megalomaniacal dictator who ruled Turkmenistan until his sudden death from heart failure in 2006. This Arch of Neutrality is a modified version of the one that used to sit in the city center. The original was topped with a statue of Niyazov that rotated so that it constantly faced the sun. In the modified monument, the former president is still.
After heart surgery in 1997 forced him to quit smoking, Turkmenbashi forbade smoking in all public places. His irritation with beards, lip syncing, and gold teeth led to all three being outlawed. (Those who already had gold teeth had to get them extracted.) Niyazov also disliked makeup on TV presenters and, in 2004, mandated that newsreaders had to appear on screen with cosmetic-free faces "the color of wheat."
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The Independence Monument is in the shape of a plunger. Yes, THAT kind of plunger. LOL!
“From now on, the official language will be... Swedish.”
My dear late friend Lil (the one who died in my arms in a helicopter over a live volcano last July) was a missionary to that beleaguered country back in the 1990’s. She told me all about the crazy rotating gold statue which was surrounded by fountains in a drought stricken land.
She used to smuggle bibles under the Turkmenistan version of a Burkha.
I am honored that God chose me to be the one who held her when she died.