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Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow
president of Turkmenistan

Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow

Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow
The basics

Quick Facts

Intro president of Turkmenistan
A.K.A. Gurbanguly Mälikgulyýewiç Berdimuhammedow, Gurbanguly Berdimuhammed...
Is Politician Dentist
From Turkmenistan Russia
Field Healthcare Politics
Gender male
Birth 29 June 1957, Babarap
Age 64 years
Residence Ashgabat
Politics Democratic Party of Turkmenistan, nonpartisanism
Family
Father: Berdimuhamedov Myalikguly Berdymuhamedovich
Children: Serdar Berdimuhamedow
The details (from wikipedia)

Biography

Gurbanguly Mälikguly ogly Berdimuhamedow (born 29 June 1957) is a Turkmen politician who has served as the President of Turkmenistan since February 2007. Berdimuhamedow, a dentist by profession, served in the government under President Saparmurat Niyazov as Minister of Health beginning in 1997 and as Vice-President beginning in 2001. He became Acting President following Niyazov's death on 21 December 2006 and subsequently won the February 2007 presidential election. He faced no meaningful opposition in the vote and won by an overwhelming margin (89.23%). In the February 2012 presidential election, he was re-elected with 97% of the vote. In the February 2017 presidential election, he was re-elected to a third term with 97.69% of the votes.

As with his predecessor, a personality cult is promoted around Berdimuhamedow. According to Human Rights Watch, Berdimuhamedow, his relatives, and his associates possess unlimited power and exercise total control over all aspects of public life. He uses the honorific title Arkadag, meaning "protector". He is the first dentist in the world to head a state or a government.

On 20 July 2019, sources from the Turkmen opposition announced that Berdimuhamedow had died. However, this information was officially denied.

Early years

Berdimuhamedow was born on 29 June 1957 in Babarap, in what is now the Geok Tepe etrap ("district") of Ahal Province, to Mälikguly Arciç Berdimuhamedow and Ogulabat Ataýewna Kürräýewa. He is the only son in a family of 8 children. Berdimuhammedov's father worked as a senior Interior Ministry officer in a prison guard detachment. He retired as a Colonel of police. Berdimuhammedov graduated from the Turkmen State Medical Institute in 1979 and entered a career in dentistry. He also received a PhD in medical sciences in Moscow. By 1992 he had become part of the dentistry faculty at the Medical Institute.

In 1995, during the rule of Saparmurat Niyazov, Berdimuhamedov became head of the dentistry center of the Ministry of Health and Medical Industry. He was appointed to the government as Minister of Health in 1997, and he was additionally appointed as Deputy Chairman of the Cabinet of Ministers (also referred to as Deputy Prime Minister, despite the lack of a Prime Ministerial post in Turkmenistan), a post akin to that of a Vice-President, in 2001. In April 2004, Niyazov suspended Berdimuhamedow's salary for three months because healthcare workers were also not being paid.

Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow
Berdimuhamedow with Russian President Vladimir Putin at Ashgabat Airport.

The Health Ministry was responsible for carrying out Niyazov's notorious order to close all hospitals outside of the capital city and major regional towns in 2005.

President of Turkmenistan

Following Niyazov's death in December 2006, the State Security Council of Turkmenistan appointed Berdimuhamedow as acting president. The Council stated in its announcement that Öwezgeldi Ataýew, who, as the Chairman of the Assembly of Turkmenistan was to become the acting president, was not appointed "in view of the fact that the prosecutor-general had instituted criminal proceedings against him".

Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow
Berdimuhamedow with Petro Poroshenko.

Article 60 of the Turkmen Constitution stipulated that the acting president "may not stand for election to the Presidency", which would have barred Berdimuhamedow from running in the 2007 presidential elections. However, on 24 December 2006, the People's Council voted to remove this provision, making him eligible for the election as one of the six chosen candidates, all members of the Democratic Party of Turkmenistan. Berdimuhamedov was supported by the political elite, and the official results showed him as winning 89% of the vote.

In his first presidential trip abroad, Berdimuhamedov visited Saudi Arabia in mid-April 2007. There he performed the Umrah pilgrimage and met with King Abdullah. He then visited Russia and President Vladimir Putin at the end of the same month.

Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow
Berdimuhamedow with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani during the Third GECF summit

After taking office, Berdimuhamedow reversed several of Niyazov's more eccentric policies. Internet cafés offering free and uncensored Web access opened in Ashgabat, compulsory education was extended from nine to ten years and classes in sports and foreign languages were re-introduced into the curriculum, and the government announced plans to open several specialized schools for the arts. President Berdimuhamedow has called for reform of education, health care and pension systems, and government officials of non-Turkmen ethnic origin who had been sacked by Niyazov were allowed to return to work. He also restored the pensions of 100,000 elderly people whose pensions Niyazov had slashed in the face of an unspecified budget crisis. Later on, he reopened the Turkmen Academy of Sciences, which had been closed by Niyazov.

In February 2017, he was reelected to a third term as President of Turkmenistan (seven-year term) with nearly 98% of the votes in his favor and with an eligible voter turnout of 97%. In October 2017, he offered a top Turkmen-bred variety of the Central Asian shepherd dog to Vladimir Putin.

He was reelected as president of the National Olympic Committee of Turkmenistan on 22 April 2018.

Accusations of totalitarianism

Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow
Image of Berdimuhamedow, on display outside the national horse-racing ground in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan

Upon taking office, Berdimuhamedow eased travel restrictions and reopened libraries in rural areas. He also took steps to curb Niyazov's extensive personality cult. He called for an end to the elaborate pageants of music and dancing that formerly greeted the president on his arrival anywhere, and said that the Turkmen "sacred oath", part of which states that the speaker's tongue should shrivel if he ever speaks ill of Turkmenistan or its president, should not be recited multiple times a day but reserved for "special occasions." He also gave up his right to rename any landmarks, institutions, or cities, restored the traditional names of the months of the year and days of the week (Niyazov had renamed them after himself and his mother, among other things), and announced plans to move the infamous gold rotating statue of Niyazov from Ashgabat's central square. However, he explicitly ruled out any move toward Western-style democracy.

In 2008, he dismissed Akmyrat Rejepow, the longtime chief of the presidential security detail and one of the main proponents of Niyazov's personality cult. In 2011, he sang a song on a video posted to YouTube.

In July 2013, Jennifer Lopez publicly apologized for singing Happy birthday! to Berdimuhamedow during a sponsored concert, stating she was not aware of the human rights issues in Turkmenistan prior to the show. In August 2013, Berdimuhamedow suspended his Democratic Party of Turkmenistan membership for the duration of his presidency, ostensibly to remain "above partisan politics" and "promote a multiparty system."

In May 2013, he fell off his horse during a race. The fall was censored on TV but leaked online.

In 2015, a golden statue of Berdimuhamedow riding a horse atop a white-marble cliff was erected in Ashgabat.

According to international observers, Berdimuhamedow now leads "one of the most oppressive" and "closed" regimes in the world. Freedom House has consistently placed Turkmenistan near the bottom of its Freedom in the World rankings since Berdimuhamedow took office; in 2017, the country was one of 11 with the lowest aggregate scores for political and civil rights. Human Rights Watch noted that Berdimuhamedow not only has complete control over public life, but presides over a regime that does not tolerate "alternative political or religious expression" and has complete control over the media. Reporters Without Borders has ranked Turkmenistan near the bottom of its Press Freedom Index for most of Berdimuhamedow's tenure. In 2017, RWB ranked Turkmenistan 178th out of 180 countries surveyed, ahead of Eritrea and North Korea. RSF noted that internet access is heavily censored in Turkmenistan, and that satellite dishes have been removed by government officials.

In September 2016, the Turkmenistan Parliament abolished term limits for the presidency, which allowed Berdimuhamedow to run for a third term. In July 2018, he appeared in a rap video with his grandson. He had previously lifted weights on camera, and also acted as DJ.

By decree of Berdymuhamedov in January 2019, the government will gradually end state funding of the Academy of Sciences of Turkmenistan; it will be phased out in three years.

Honours

Domestic awards

Foreign awards

Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow
A specially handcrafted horse saddle given to him as a gift from Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in July 2015.

Private life

According to a cable from the U.S. embassy in Ashgabat, Berdimuhamedow is married and has three daughters and one son. One of his sons-in-law, Yhlasgeldi Amanov, heads the Turkmen State Agency for Management and Use of Hydrocarbon Resources in London, and the other is a diplomat living in Paris.

According to the same leaked cables, Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow has a mistress, Marina, a Russian nurse that he supposedly met earlier in his dentist career. They have a 14-year old daughter together. Berdimuhamedow's wife has been living in London since 2007.

His son Serdar Berdimuhamedow, is a Lieutenant-Colonel in the Armed Forces.

His grandfather, Berdimuhamed Annayev, was a veteran of the Great Patriotic War and since 2018, a posthumous recipient of the Russian Order of Honour. According to a biography of Berdimuhamedow's father published in 2012, Berdimuhamedow has five sisters: Durdynabat (born 1960), Gulnabat (born 1962), Mähri (born 1964), Guljamal (born 1969), and Oguljamal (born 1974).

During his spare time from being President, from his dentistry career and from his political career, he writes books that are popular in Turkmenistan ever since he was at a young age. Aside from writing books, he is known for writing songs, DJing and engaging in health activities.

Health

On 20 July 2019, YouTube channel of a Turkmen opposition media announced that Berdimuhamedow had reportedly died while vacationing at the age of 61. He was said to have been on leave since 15 July. These reports were published by Russia-related media the next day. Ambassador of Turkmenistan to Kyrgyzstan Shadurdy Mereov, and Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Kyrgyzstan denied the these claims on 21 July. According to The Chronicle of Turkmenistan Berdimuhamedow went to Germany, because his mother was receiving medical treatment there, and her condition was critical.

The contents of this page are sourced from Wikipedia article on 04 Aug 2019. The contents are available under the CC BY-SA 4.0 license.
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