Feature

Year of dictator’s mom

The week's news at a glance.

Ashgabat, Turkmenistan

The Turkmen parliament has declared 2003 the “Year of the Turkmen heroine Gurbansoltan Niyazova, the mother of the first and eternal president of Turkmenistan.” The parliament, a rubber-stamp body that exists only to fawn over dictator Saparmurat Niyazov, praised his late mother as “a spiritual and moral ideal to which all women and mothers should aspire.” Niyazov, who brutally suppresses all political speech and has his opponents tortured, has already renamed the month of April after his mother and declared her birthplace a national shrine. She died in an earthquake in 1948, when he was just 8.

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