A Cult of Personality

Posted by on May 28, 2012

Part of what makes Turkmenistan feel like such a strange place is that Turkmenbashi is EVERYWHERE. Born Saparmurat Niyazov and orphaned as a young boy by an earthquake that leveled much of Ashgabat, when he took power as leader of Turkmenistan he styled himself Turkmenbashi (“Leader of all Turkmen”) and seemingly began building statues of himself immediately.


Turkmenbashi loves visitors.

Walking around Ashgabat (Me walking, not him. He died while I was in college.), Turkmenbashi stared at me from the tops of plinths in central squares and the facades of buildings even out into the suburbs.


Turkmenbashi loves architecture.

Though it apparently was out-of-order while I was in town, there’s even a 70 meter Tripod of Neutrality topped by a 12 meter statue built to rotate throughout the day to always face the sun. That’s a whole lot of glorious Turkmenbashi!

Triumphal Arch, Crowned by a King

Turkmenbashi loves the sun.

I worry that I may be overstating my point with all these photos, but I really want you to get a good feel fr what I’m talking about here:


Turkmenbashi loves puppies.


Turkmenbashi loves Turkmenbashi.


Turkmenbashi loves nature.


Ashgabat loves Turkmenbashi.


Turkmenbashi loves fires inside of tents? Ranger Roy would not approve.


Turkmenbashi loves hair gel.


Turkmenbashi loves helping people. (To be fair, I'm told he actually did study medicine.)

That’s what Turkmenbashi is about!

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3 Responses to A Cult of Personality

  1. Phil

    Uh huh, uh huh. I’m taking notes so I’ll know how to run my own country like a boss : p

    • Stephen

      Step 1: Nationalize all utilities and provide them for nearly nothing to the population.
      Step 2: Start doing crazy quirky adorable nonsense.

      Bonus: Proximity to Afghanistan helps with the opium for the masses.

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