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Celebrations Everywhere For Turkmenistan’s ‘Protector’


Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov may oversee one of the world’s most repressive security states, but the Turkmen president — commonly referred to in official circles as “arkadag” (protector) — knows how to throw a party.

Not one to shy away from ostentatious public celebrations of his accomplishments, Berdymukhammedov turns 55 on June 29 and will have a series of commemorations in his honor performed throughout the day.

From where he sits, it has been a pretty good year for the Turkmen president. In mid-February, Berdymukhammedov was reelected to a second five-year term with a staggering — some would say unbelievable — 97 percent of the vote. No Western observers were present for the poll, the head of the Commonwealth of Independent States delegation reported no irregularities, and the president was serenaded by adoring passersby and polling-station workers as he cast his ballot.

In the eastern province of Lebap, visitors can head to the Seyitnazar Syidi Theater to see a performance of “The Heart of the Protector Beats for his People.” If you’re in the capital, Ashgabat, you can take in “Protector, Let Your Path be Glorious” at the Magtymguly Theater, or maybe “Era of Supreme Happiness and Stable State Brought Glory to the State with Protector” at the Pushkin is more your style.
»Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov: Galloping through the Era of Supreme Happiness


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