A complete surprise to many in Turkmenistan and beyond was a message about the pardon of 11 people from among those who were convicted in the so-called “attempted assassination” case against President Saparmurad Niyazov in November 2002.
However, none of the official sources say who these people are and why they were convicted and why there should be such a reaction to this fact in the world and society. According to official information, “11 people were convicted and sentenced to various terms.” And the authorities used this fact to the fullest extent to reason about the “humanization” of society. After the publication of the list of 11 names, it became clear that we are talking about those people who were convicted in the case of the "attempt", but not even one of the officials said what these people had done and why they fell choice in preparing this pardon. And the scenes with “repentance” that were amnestied repeatedly shown on Turkmen television were called upon to again and again draw the attention of the public to the fact that it was the new president who showed the act of “humanism” and “mercy”.
And now the members of the United States Commission on Religious Freedom in the countries of the world who visited Turkmenistan "... highly appreciated the reforms carried out in the country, highlighting the recent decision of the head of state on amnesty for 11 citizens sentenced to imprisonment for various periods of time." And it’s not for nothing that the members of this Commission talked about this to the United States, because the lists of the amnestied ones include the former mufti of Turkmenistan Nasrullah Ibn Ibadullah, who was already convicted in 2004 and in the same case “about the assassination” when Niyazov himself that the case was investigated and closed, and all the perpetrators are known and most of them, except those who had taken refuge abroad, were arrested and convicted. But there is information that the mufti fell into disfavor with Niyazov, not at all for involvement in the “attempt”, but when he began to sabotage the drawing of quotations from Niyazov’s book “Ruhnama” on the walls and minarets of mosques. The latter is a violation of the canons of Islam, but with Niyazov, the fact of opposition provoked anger and the mufti was seated. Consequently, the members of the Commission would not have overlooked the fact that the former religious leader was imprisoned.
So, the matter is not quite in “mercy” and “humanism”? Or is it just that the mufti was released on the eve of the visit of the very delegation from the United States on religious issues? And the rest were freed by the “trailer” so that it did not seem frankly that it was the interest of the members of the US Commission to the fate of the mufti that forced the authorities to take this step? Well, maybe the fact is that, finally, the authorities became aware that the violations committed by the authorities themselves during the investigation of the “assassination case” and other cases, violations of the law are so flagrant that the continued presence of these people in detention becomes an aggravating factor , both internal and external? And the authorities said: “We are free because they are innocent”. But it was not so! People from this “list of 11”, as well as their relatives, were forced to repent publicly, thank the president and promise their work to prove love for him and his homeland, recognizing his guilt completely freeing the authorities from any responsibility for crippled destinies.
But in this list of 11, there are just relatives and acquaintances convicted for the “attempt” and their only fault is that they were either relatives or acquaintances, but no more. But in the eyes of the Turkmen authorities, this fact is not only aggravating all other crimes, he himself is a crime. And it was naive to think that the practice of persecuting relatives of people who had somehow committed guilt before the authorities had gone along with Niyazov. Not at all! Likewise, relatives of officials who had already been overthrown by the new government were subjected to persecution. And the last able-bodied relatives of the Shikhmuradov brothers, the defendants in the case of the "attempt" in 2002, were convicted (both mother and son) in July 2007. So what kind of “humanization” of the state can we talk about when the authorities continue to think in categories of “lists”, forgetting that the fate of a particular person is behind everyone who is present there?
By the same principle, lists of “restricted to leave the place”, or, as they are also called, “black lists” of persons whose travel outside of Turkmenistan is prohibited, have been compiled and continue to grow. At the same time, people who had never been convicted, or held criminally or otherwise responsible were found to be affected. The overwhelming majority is charged with the same kinship or simply acquaintance with those who once and with something did not please the Turkmen authorities. In the same lists are journalists, dissidents, scientific, public, religious figures, intellectuals, disgraced officials and members of their families. The same “lists” were sent to all higher educational institutions of the country and “elite schools” in order to prevent the enrollment and study of family members from other “lists”.
The “list” system created by Niyazov for dividing his own people very well fit into the structures of the current government, and allows it to still receive all the benefits it contains. Except for one nuance. Niyazov struggled in every way with manifestations of nepotism, nepotism and tribalism. On this account he had his own “lists” - which of what kind, of the tribe, and which of the officials has relatives in state structures. More than once or twice he expressed his discontent, followed by hard conclusions when someone from his entourage was dragging up his relatives and countrymen. In order to avoid all these phenomena, a special law was passed, restricting and prohibiting the joint state service of close and distant relatives and any manifestation of fellowship. But the new government, in violation of the still existing law, allows itself the creation of the ruling clan, based precisely on kinship, tribal and compatriot ties. And for this, one more “lists” are being drawn up and dragged. But already those who can be loyal by virtue of their relationship with the first person of the state or his entourage. Manifestations of such a personnel policy will become apparent very soon, but this is not about the conversation now.
Everyone understands that the Turkmen society is split. On those in 2 lists and on those who have avoided getting there, on those who use kinship to penetrate into power and those who suffer for kinship too. However, the authorities do not understand the whole danger of such a split and continue to think in terms of the “list” category. It is clear that tribalism as a phenomenon was and will remain in Asian society. But building a system of intimidation and punishment on this basis is a relapse of the 30s, and building a state on similar principles of dividing society is a return to the Middle Ages.
All the steps taken by the new government could only be welcomed if these actions contained at least half of the initial declarations. The promised pensions have been restored, but not to the original level, the demand for higher education is far ahead of the threshold allowed by the authorities. For 6 months, the commission of inquiry into the abuses of power officials investigated only 11 personal cases. And the “accessible Internet” is still unavailable, and the one that still exists is limited to the same “lists” of sites allowed to visit by the authorities.