Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow

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Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow (Turkmen)
Гурбангулы́ Берды́мухамедов (Russian)
Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow 2012-09-11.jpg
2nd President of Turkmenistan
Incumbent
Assumed office
21 December 2006
Acting until 14 February 2007
Preceded by Öwezgeldi Ataýew (Acting)
2nd Chairman of the Democratic Party of Turkmenistan
In office
21 December 2006 – 18 August 2013
Acting until 4 August 2007
Preceded by Saparmurat Niyazov
Succeeded by Kasymguly Babaev
Deputy Prime Minister of Turkmenistan
In office
1 March 2001 – 14 February 2007
Preceded by Yevgeny Zemskov
Succeeded by Raşit Meredow
Personal details
Born (1957-06-29) 29 June 1957 (age 57)
Babarab, Turkmen SSR, Soviet Union
Political party Independent (2013-present)
Democratic Party of Turkmenistan (Before 2013)
Residence Ashgabat, Turkmenistan
Alma mater Turkmen State Medical Institute
Profession Dentistry
Religion Sunni Islam[1]

Gurbanguly Mälikgulyýewiç Berdimuhamedow[2][3] (or Gurbanguly Berdymuhamedov, Berdymukhammedov,...,[4] born June 29, 1957[5]) is a Turkmen politician who has served as the President of Turkmenistan since 2006. Berdimuhamedow, a dentist by profession, served in the government under President Saparmurat Niyazov as Minister of Health beginning in 1997 and as Deputy Prime Minister beginning in 2001. He became Acting President following Niyazov's death on 21 December 2006 and subsequently won the February 2007 presidential election.[6] He faced no meaningful opposition in the vote and won by an overwhelming margin. In the February 2012 presidential election, he was re-elected with 97% of the vote.[7] He uses the honorific title Arkadag, meaning "Patron".[8]

Early years and private life[edit]

Berdimuhamedov was born on 29 June 1957 in Babarab in what is now the Geok Tepe etrap ("district") of Ahal province. He graduated from the Turkmen State Medical Institute in 1979 and entered a career in dentistry.[9] He also received a PhD in medical sciences in Moscow.[9] By 1992 he had become part of the dentistry faculty at the Medical Institute.

In an interview when asked about his life experience Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov said:

"It is too early for me to write a detailed biography. My biography is in many respects typical of people of my generation."[10]

On influencing factors to his character:

"My parents always managed to maintain the hospitable atmosphere in the family. They were happy at an opportunity to communicate openly with people - friends and relatives. They always took active part in the resolving of other people's problems and difficulties...(more)...this necessity in empathy my parents had instilled in me in the childhood influenced, to the considerable extent, my choice to devote my life to medicine...(more)...readiness to help a neighbor is peculiar to the society as a whole, it may characterize the strength and moral health of the nation. The Turkmen literature has many splendid authors who gave the world their immortal works that express the profound Turkmen people's wisdom in a concentrated form. I admire Magtymguly, Andalib, Azadi, Kemine... Due to my medical education I read a lot the works of Ibn Sina (Avicenna), a great scholar of the medieval times, with great interest. The expanse of his interests and the depth of the scientist's judgments struck me. Ibn Sina was a great man not only as a doctor but as a philosopher and thinker as well."[10]

In 1995, during the rule of Saparmurat Niyazov, Berdimuhamedov became head of the dentistry center of the Ministry of Health and Medical Industry.[11] He was appointed to the government as Minister of Health in 1997, and he was additionally appointed as Deputy Prime Minister in 2001.[12][13] In April 2004, Niyazov suspended Berdimuhamedov's salary for three months because healthcare workers were also not being paid.[11]

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.[14]

According to a cable from the U.S. embassy in Ashgabat, Berdymukhamedov is married with two daughters and a son, but his wife lives in London. He has another daughter with his long-term Russian mistress.[15]

President of Turkmenistan[edit]

Following Niyazov's death in December 2006, the State Security Council of Turkmenistan appointed Berdimuhamedow as acting president.[16] 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."[17]

Article 60 of the Turkmen Constitution stipulated that the acting president "may not stand for election to the Presidency",[18] which would have barred Berdimuhamedow from running in the 2007 presidential elections. However, on December 24, 2006 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.[19] Berdimuhamedov was supported by the political elite,[20] and the official results showed him as winning 89% of the vote.[6] 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.[21] He then visited Russia and President Vladimir Putin at the end of the same month.

In his April 2007 trip, Berdimuhamedov visited Islamic holy sites in Medina.[22]

He has also been quoted as saying

"A human being always communicates with God... There is no place for insincerity and craftiness. Even if you try to palter before God he will see it anyway. Truly, the one who can afford talking honestly and sincerely not only to God but people as well is happy."[10]

After taking office, Berdimuhamedow reversed several of Niyazov's more eccentric policies. Internet cafes offering free and uncensored Web access opened in Ashgabat,[23] 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.[24] 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.[25] He also restored the pensions of 100,000 elderly people whose pensions Niyazov had slashed in the face of an unspecified budget crisis.[26] Later on, he reopened the Turkmen Academy of Sciences, which had been closed by Niyazov.[27]

Berdimuhammedov with US President Barack Obama and his wife.

Berdimuhamedow also took steps to curb the extensive personality cult surrounding his predecessor. 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."[28] He also gave up his right to rename any landmarks, institutions, or cities.[29] He also 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),[30] and announced plans to move the infamous gold rotating statue of Niyazov from Ashgabat's central square.[31] In 2008, he sacked Akmyrat Rejepow, the longtime chief of the presidential security detail and one of the main proponents of Niyazov's personality cult.[32]

Although Berdimuhamedow's regime is much more open than Niyazov's, it is still rigidly authoritarian. Indeed, Berdimuhamedow has explicitly ruled out any move toward Western-style democracy.[33] However, in August 2013, Berdimuhamedow suspended his DPT membership for the duration of his presidency in order to remain above partisan politics and promote a multiparty system.[34]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ President of Turkmenistan arrives in Mecca
  2. ^ Spelled with two m in Turkmen language (Berdimuhammedow) and in Russian language (Бердымухаммедов) until 25 June 2007 (see here an election sign dated February 2007 on the web site of Radio Free Europe). Since this date his last name is spelled with a single m in every official text or newspaper. This dispatch from Eurasianet.org tells about the Russian form of his name, but the same thing can been observed about its Tukmen form on every texts published on internet after this date, for example on the website of Turkmen Press agency.
  3. ^ Evidently the names consist of a series of compounds.
    - The given name can be analysed as "gurban" 'sacrifice' (cf. Arab.-Pers. قربان ) and "guly" (from Pers. غلی [ghulī], an abbreviated form of Arab.-Pers. غلام [ghulām] 'servant').
    - The patronym consists of "mälik" (Arab.-Pers. ملک [malik] 'king, sovereign', Pers. غلی [ghulī], and finally, the Russian patronymic suffix -евич).
    - The surname contains three elements: "berdi" 'servant, slave' (from Pers. برده [bardah]), the name of the prophet Muhammad, and Russian -ов (the common Slavic suffix of origin/family).
  4. ^ Although Gurbanguly Mälikgulyýewiç Berdimuhamedow is the only Turkmen form, and Turkmen, written with Latin alphabet, is the only official language of Turkmenistan, western sources generally use the Russian form Гурбангулы or Курбанкулы Мяликгулыевич Бердымухам(м)едов, using various transcriptions:
    • RFE/RL: Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov.[1][2][3]
    • BBC: Kurbanguly Berdymukhamedov.[4], then Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov [5]
    • Reuters: Kurbanguly Berdymukhamedov.[6][7][8]
    • The New York Times: Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov.[9][10]
    • The Associated Press: Gurbanguli Berdymukhamedov.[11]
    The English version of the web site of the presidency uses a curious mixture of the Turkmen spelling with a transcribed ending:
    • Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov. [12]
  5. ^ Berdimuhamedow celebrated his 50th birthday on June 29 [2007] "Turkmenistan: New President Shows Shades Of 'Turkmenbashi'". Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. July 3, 2007. Retrieved 2007-07-16. 
  6. ^ a b "New Turkmen President Sworn In". Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. 2007-02-14. Retrieved 2007-03-06. 
  7. ^ http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/world/2012-02/17/c_131416863.htm
  8. ^ http://enews.fergananews.com/news.php?id=2003&print=1 Turkmenistan: President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov is awarded the status of Arkadag – protector
  9. ^ a b Luke Harding (2008-02-22). "And finally... how the march of a lone cockroach put 30 people out of work". The Guardian. Retrieved 2008-02-22. 
  10. ^ a b c "INTERVIEW OF THE PRESIDENT OF TURKMENISTAN FOR THE TURKMENISTAN MAGAZINE". Turkmenistan Magazine. 2007-02-17. 
  11. ^ a b BBC profile
  12. ^ "Turkmenistan: Change Of Leadership Presents Many Dangers", Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberties, December 22, 2006.
  13. ^ Press-Uz.info, December 22, 2006 (in Russian).
  14. ^ "Turkmenistan: President announces large-scale closure of hospitals", Amnesty International, March 24, 2005.
  15. ^ http://wikileaks.org/cable/2009/12/09ASHGABAT1633.html
  16. ^ [HVBhlsBDVlchZBDLvbSLvlbl/cis/20061221/57476457.html "Power in Turkmenistan temporarily moved to Berdimuhamedov"] (in Russian)
  17. ^ "Turkmen Dpty PM Berdymukhammedov appointed acting president". ITAR-TASS. 2006-12-21. 
  18. ^ The Constitutional Law of Turkmenistan
  19. ^ New Turkmen leader is inaugurated, BBC, February 14, 2007; http://lenta.ru/articles/2006/12/26/awakening/
  20. ^ Interfax > Politics
  21. ^ Berdymukhammedov Burnishes Muslim Credentials On Visit To Saudi Arabia
  22. ^ President of Turkmenistan arrives in Mecca, performs umrah
  23. ^ Associated Press (February 16, 2007). "A crack in the isolation of Turkmenistan: Internet cafes". USA Today. Retrieved 2007-04-26. 
  24. ^ "1 апреля в Туркмении откроются школы искусства". Gündogar. February 21, 2007. Retrieved 2007-04-26.  (Russian)
  25. ^ "Internet in Turkmenistan: A sign of hope?". New Eurasia. February 20, 2007. Retrieved 2007-04-26. 
  26. ^ New Turkmen president restores pensions to more than 100,000 – International Herald Tribune
  27. ^ Гундогар :: NEWS
  28. ^ "Turkmenistan moves to reduce cult". MWC News. March 10, 2007. Archived from the original on March 13, 2007. Retrieved 2007-04-26. 
  29. ^ Turkmenistan Restricts Presidential Prerogatives – RADIO FREE EUROPE / RADIO LIBERTY
  30. ^ "Turkmen go back to old calendar". BBC News. April 24, 2008. Retrieved May 4, 2010. 
  31. ^ "Ex-Turkmen leader's statue moved". BBC News. May 3, 2008. Retrieved May 4, 2010. 
  32. ^ http://www.eurasianet.org/departments/insight/articles/pp051607.shtml "Turkmenistan: New President Sacks Long-Serving Security Chief" from EurasiaNet.org
  33. ^ "Fresh optimism in Turkmenistan". BBC News. December 21, 2007. Retrieved May 4, 2010. 
  34. ^ Turkmen president quits top party

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Öwezgeldi Ataýew (Acting)
President of Turkmenistan
21 December 2006–present
Incumbent
Preceded by
Yevgeny Zemskov
Deputy Prime Minister of Turkmenistan
1 March 2001– 14 February 2007
Succeeded by
Raşit Meredow