Every year since 1999, by decree of President Saparmurad Niyazov, from 7 to 16 thousand people are amnestied. According to the president himself, this act is an example of the manifestation of the highest humanism of the state towards its citizens. Moreover, the amnesty is timed to the Night of omnipotence - Gydyr gidhesi, one of the main dates of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
According to established tradition, the authorities “conduct appropriate conversations with those who are on the amnesty lists,” and before they are released they all swear an oath on the Koran, President Niyazov’s book “Ruhnama” and bread. The oath is that they will no longer break the law. According to the former Attorney General of Turkmenistan, this technique is valid, and relapse is a modest percentage.
This year was one of the most fruitful for the number of people released under the amnesty. “... Today, there are 18,604 convicts in prison, freeing 10,656 of them, we will demonstrate the great care of the state for our people ... let us release almost all women and foreigners who have not committed serious crimes. .. ”- said Niyazov at a government meeting.
However, the whole of this benevolently humane picture leaves many questions. And, unfortunately, with very simple answers to them.
The punishment system in Turkmenistan has been worked out clearly, and amnesty is one of the mandatory elements of this system, and not an exception from it. Over the entire existence of the Amnesty Institute in its current form, about 150 thousand people were released from prison. The main part of the amnestied person spends 1-2 years in prison and is released, having sentences of 8–15 years in prison. These are mainly convicted in domestic criminal cases, cases involving drug trafficking, fraud and petty theft. As a “shock therapy,” they are assigned the maximum possible time to then amnesty after a year or two. Of course, this completely emasculates the entire justice system as such. Therefore, it is not surprising that a year later the Turkmen prisons again absorbed the same number of prisoners, which was granted amnesty. And whatever the low percentage of recidivism the Turkmen authorities would say, in the current social situation (unemployment, corruption, lack of control of the siloviki) the chain of arrest-court-prison-amnesty is the only way to “reduce crime”. And the amnesty, as it was said, is designed to simply make room for the next in line for punishment.
How severe a punishment is such an “excursion” to Turkmen places of detention, says that from year to year, the Turkmen authorities refuse to allow representatives of the Red Cross and other international organizations to visit prisons and pre-trial detention centers. According to the testimonies of those who passed all circles of hell from arrest to amnesty, it is not an oath on the Quran and the Ruhnama that makes it necessary to repent of a crime or forget about a new temptation, but torture, hunger, humiliation and fear for their loved ones. But this does not save many from re-arrests. It is easier for the police, the prosecutor's office, and the authorities to write off unsolved crimes on the just-released prison and to break out of this circle is very difficult. And all the talk of the authorities about assistance in the rehabilitation and adaptation of those who have been released is a fiction.
From year to year, after the amnesty, about 8 thousand people remain in prisons. Apparently, these are “dangerous elements”, “traitors to the motherland” and others, the release of which is absolutely undesirable for President Niyazov. These are personal prisoners of Turkmenbashi. And their list begins with dissidents convicted in the mid-90s. And it continues with a long list of officials from Niyazov’s inner circle with whom he has worked since the 1980s to the present. An elementary enumeration of personalities in the past and present environment of Niyazov shows that he was freed from all those who were related to the authorities during this time, with most of his former comrades in prison being lucky - in exile in remote areas and under house arrest , units managed to find refuge outside the borders of Turkmenistan, but they were also awarded the title of “traitors to the motherland”. It has long been a secret that after every eminent convict, his immediate relatives, friends, and subordinates are sent to prisons and exile. All the "high-profile" cases in Turkmenistan were accompanied not only by revealing the extensive networks of "embezzlers", "bribe takers" and "traitors to the motherland", but also quiet cases to condemn their relatives, acquaintances, subordinates. At the same time, all cases against relatives and friends are falsified so carefully that the courts pass on them the maximum possible sentences. Incidentally, at least in the past 10 years, not a single acquittal has been issued in Turkmenistan. And on this score, Turkmenbashi has its own mechanism of pre-trial conviction. According to a special law, arrest is possible only after the criminal case has been approved by several officials of various departments and local authorities at once. In fact, this is the direct analogue of the “troika” of Stalin's times. Even before the arrest and trial, after the signature of the officials, the man is doomed. The cases of release after arrest are slightly more than acquittals. According to Niyazov’s logic, the authorities cannot be mistaken, but the court ... and Niyazov personally appoints the judges.
But the list of Niyazov’s personal prisoners does not end there. A special category consists of those who inflicted a personal offense to him, and not only and not so much stealing from the state feeder. First of all, these are the participants of the “attempt” of 2002 and their relatives. About 350 people were convicted in this case. Nothing is known about their fate, any relations with them are prohibited. And released under the last amnesty, 8 people allegedly involved in this case are people who were convicted and imprisoned "by mistake." One of the former chairmen of the National Security Committee, Mukhammet Nazarov, also disappeared in a Turkmen prison without a trace that Niyazov seemed suspicious of his authoritative ambitions. Relatives of the defendants in the case of theft of millions from Niyazov’s personal account, including the elderly, also sit without the right to an amnesty and relations with the outside world. The figurants themselves could not be found. They also pay for their kinship with members of the families of dissidents and human rights defenders who managed to get out of Turkmenistan and who criticize the regime, inflicting personal “insult” to Turkmenbashi. All of them do not have to undergo an amnesty.
As happened according to another Turkmen tradition, letters appeared in all newspapers from amnestied prisoners to Turkmenbashi with thanks and other wishes of health, long life and other things for the benefit of Turkmenistan. These people are happy because they escaped from one prison. To get to another. Indeed, Turkmenistan today is one big prison in which people are deprived of almost all rights. And even the right to such “freedom” can be deprived at any time, and no one is immune from the “excursion” to places not so remote. Until the next amnesty. Or forever.
Prisons are free. Turkmen Moloch demands new sacrifices.