Many experts are concerned its government may be hiding the truth, which could disrupt attempts to end the pandemic. All channels and newspaper are under state control. We'd been on Turkmenistan soil for 30 seconds when we glimpse our first Berdimuhamedov portrait. ", Ruslan Myatiev, the editor of a news website about Turkmenistan based in The Netherlands, told CNN in August that: "There is not enough food in the state-run shops so every morning people have to line up for hours to buy such staples as flour, bread or sugar.". Video, Brothers play tabla to the BBC theme tune, The three-year-old orphaned by war. It's a country that was molded by its first post-Soviet leader Saparmurat Niyazov. "There is no question of trust because that's the way it works.". Video, 00:03:28, Why fishing is a stumbling block in Brexit talks, Composer with dementia meets students he inspired. When I asked her whether the UN trusted the official figures showing Turkmenistan had no confirmed Covid-19 cases, Ms Panova avoided giving a straight answer. It took just 10 minutes from exiting the airport to be told: "You can't film that.". The central Asian nation of Turkmenistan is one of the world's most secretive and mysterious countries. 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In the end there was a very short media conference -- the first for international journalists the country has ever held -- with the head of the Turkmenistan Olympic Committee, which marks progress to a degree. Persuading an undecided voter, The three-year-old orphaned by war. The government, led by President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov, who is known in Turkmenistan as the “Father Protector” of the nation, was one of the fastest moving countries in combatting the pandemic by closing its borders in early February. More than 83,000 new infections were reported on Friday, with deaths and hospital numbers also rising. Its capital city — Ashgabat — is thought to be abandoned and is often called “the City of the Dead” because it’s absolutely impossible to see people outside. He liked power. The country's capital, Ashgabat, is one of the most unusual capital cities in the world, its streets lined with marble and filled with golden statues despite the economic troubles of the natural-resource-rich nation. In this globalised economy that we now live in, every country is only as secure as the weakest country in the world," he said. Despite the banishment of the word, leader of neighboring Uzbekistan spoke to the Turkmen President last week, the Uzbek readout of the call made clear that the two discussed a number of measures related to the spread of coronavirus. But the country actually wants to become an international transport hub, and is making major investments at Ashgabat International Airport to try and make it happen. VideoThe three-year-old orphaned by war, Composer with dementia meets students he inspired. Another image in our series of statues in honor of Niyazov. The image of health is part of his cult of personality. But will we be heading back with a host of colleagues as Turkmenistan plays host to an Olympics? And like Putin, Berdimuhamedov is a fan of horses, even riding as a jockey at the local race track. It is for this reason the Turkmen government might try to conceal an outbreak, even if its citizens do get infected. In 2011, Berdimuhamedov ordered an annual horse beauty contest, which is solely for the Akhal-Teke breed -- featured in the national emblem -- to compete in. Cafes and restaurants are open. To date, no cases of COVID-19 have been reported by the authorities, and the media, controlled by the Turkmen government, has removed the world “coronavirus” from every source of public information, from health pamphlets to schools and hospitals, according to RSF. Video, 00:01:42, Inside Turkmenistan fuel summit. So much so, he wrote his birthday into the Koran. .css-8h1dth-Link{font-family:ReithSans,Helvetica,Arial,freesans,sans-serif;font-weight:700;-webkit-text-decoration:none;text-decoration:none;color:#FFFFFF;}.css-8h1dth-Link:hover,.css-8h1dth-Link:focus{-webkit-text-decoration:underline;text-decoration:underline;}Read about our approach to external linking. Video, 00:02:18, Turkmenistan to meet China gas needs. ... Turkmenistan is so repressive it is even worse than in Soviet times, says editor Ruslan Myatiev. We'd been granted visas for 48 hours, as part of an international media forum being held as the country prepares to open itself up to the world by hosting major international sporting events. We asked to visit these places and although it took a lot of phone calls and manoeuvring we did manage to see them. Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov is back⁠ — and he's showing the world he's more than capable of running his secretive Central Asian state, and doing plenty of other things as well.

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