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"Crypto-Reformism"

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To many foreign observers, the late autocrat of Turkmenistan , Saparmurat Niyazov, or “Turkmenbashi” was a humorous eccentric. Descriptions in the Western media often focus on the oddities of his rule. Niyazov renamed himself Turkmenbashi or “leader of all Turkmen”. He also named January after himself. He required a morality test for a driver's license. All stories about him required a picture of the giant gold-plated statue of himself that rotated to face the sun. 
 But the rule of Turkmanbashi was no joke to the people of Turkmenitan. It was one of the most repressive and insular countries in the world. 
 The self-appointed “president for life” died, apparently of a heart attack, on December 21st. Immediately changes were made to the constitution to allow Gurbanguly Berdymukhammadov to become acting president as well as a candidate for the presidential elections scheduled for next month.
 

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