Feature

President’s portraits vanish

The week's news at a glance.

Ashgabat, Turkmenistan

Workers this week removed framed portraits of authoritarian President Saparmurat Niyazov from public buildings in the capital of Turkmenistan. A terse official statement said they were being replaced, at the president’s order, with scenes of national life and quotations from Niyazov’s “philosophical writings.” The move startled Turkmens and foreign observers, but there was no indication that it signaled Niyazov’s fall from power. In 1999, Niyazov—a Soviet-era leader whose post-Soviet rule has been marked by a Stalinesque cult of personality—was made “president for life” and declared “Turkmenbashi” (Father of all Turkmens).

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