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Turkmenistan News
Comprehensive news package
Due to limited capacity of this site, news stories from 25 November to 7 December only are posted here

Assassination Bid

Press Briefing by Serdar Durdiev, Official Spokesman of President Niyazov
26 November 2002, 11 AM, Foreign Office conference Room
All of you have seen President’s speech (on TV) yesterday. Yesterday we took some steps to investigate this crime. To day the picture has become a bit clear.

It has been reported to the president that 16 persons have been arrested in connection with yesterday’s incidents. They have taken part or helped in the incident. Some of them are citizens of Turkmenistan. Investigators have reported that the persons under investigation have admitted that Aklimov provided vehicles and armament while planning and funds were provided by Sheikhmuradov, Hanamov and Orazov. These things are clear from the statements of those who are under arrest.

As you know, it is well known as to what is the aim of these people because more than a month ago Hanamov announced that they are preparing a ‘gift’ for the president and this is the gift they brought. About Sheikhmuradov’s statement that they will use all possible methods to destabilize situation in Turkmenistan, that is what they are doing.

You also know well the history of Sheikhmuradov. His activities as agent of KGB of USSR during 22 years of service, history of illegal sale of air force planes, history of stealing funds from the treasury of foreign office, all these things are known to you.

Aim of this action is to destabilize the situation in the country and pave way for open terrorism against the legal government.

There are some points in this case that will be clear during investigations. There are some politicians in Russia who are supporting the opposition. There is a recorded conversation between Orazov and one very high official of Russian government in which Orazov asked his help in escaping Turkmenistan and he was helped in doing so.

They are not opposition in real sense of the word; they are criminals. Our prosecutor’s office is looking into their crimes.

There will be no mass arrests and no repression in the country [in the wake of this incident].

President is receiving telegraphic messages of support from all over the world. These messages will be published in tomorrow’s papers.

Turkmenistan considers it an act of international terrorism and violence.

These people will answer for their deeds according to the law of the land. As is usually said, the investigation is going on.

I am asking you to be careful in your reporting and avoid political twists and traps.

There are some ethnic Georgians in the group that has been arrested. They are not citizens of Turkmenistan and I don’t know their nationality but they are ethnic Georgians.

This crime was ordered and organized from abroad that is why we are classifying it as an act of international terrorism. I am not saying that it is from Russian government but all I am saying is that there are some persons or forces in Russian government who are supporting these people.

Among the attackers there are some who were injured by the firing of their own colleagues.

The Kamaz truck injured one traffic cop; he was hit by the truck and for some distance the truck dragged him and that is why he was injured and is in the hospital.

Sapar and all other members of Yklymov’s family are involved in this incident; they are a family of mafiosos. Those 16 who have been arrested are not members of Yklykov’s family; they are hired criminals. It is possible there are more collaborators of this crime.

Of course Sheikhmuradov will reject all these charges but the admission of those under arrest is there to indicate that it is his doing.

The persons under arrest are saying that immediate organizer is Yklymov but the background command came from others.

We are investigating it as a criminal case and there will be no political offshoots or mass repression.

Hnaamov is in Germany, Sheikhmuradov is in Czech republic and Orazov is in Latvia. /// nCa

Sixteen Georgian Drug Addicts Attempted to Assassinate Niyazov

Moscow, 26 Nov—Ashkhabad says yesterday’s assassination attempt on the Turkmenistan president was organized from Moscow

More More and more details come to light in connection with the assissnation attempt on Turkmenistan President Saparmurat Niyazov yesterday. PRAVDA.Ru reported yesterday that the investigation would officially declare that the attempt was organized by the opposition leaders. Head of the international information department in the Turkmenistan presidential administration Serdar Durdyev said today that 16 people have already been detained in connection with the attempt on the president’s life. Four of them are Georgian citizens. According to Durdyev, the detained have already given evidence proving that the attempt was organized by the opposition, by the ex-first deputy agriculture minister Saparmurat Yklymov, to be more precise. The man is currently living in Sweden.

Moreover, in fact, Serdar Durdyev accuses Russia of sponsoring terrorists. He says: “There are political figures in Russia who sponsored the organizers of an assissnation attempt on a president.” However, no evidence proving the words was given.

Turkmenistan President Saparmurat Niyazov is sure that the assassination attempt was committed by drug addicts backed by former governmental officials. It’s quite natural that the opposition denies its connection with the attempt. Saparmurat Yklymov circulated a statement saying that he himself had learned about the assassination attempt on the Turkmentistan president from news reports. The Turkmenistan opposition informs that dozens of relatives of those who had left the republic for political reasons have been recently arrested. However, no official confirmation of this statement can be obtained. ///

Turkmens accuse Russia of role in assassination bid

ASHGABAT, 26 Nov—Turkmenistan on Tuesday accused Russia of protecting the plotters of an assassination attempt on Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov, but stopped short of blaming Moscow for arranging the failed killing.

"This was ordered from abroad. I can't say that it was done from Russia, but I can say absolutely officially that there are political activists in Russia who protect the organisers and motivators," Niyazov's spokesman Serdar Durdyev told a briefing.

A Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman declined comment.

Niyazov's motorcade was raked by machine gun fire on Monday morning, although he later said he knew nothing about the attempt and was already at work when he was told about it. No one was hurt in the attack.

Ties between Russia and the Central Asian former Soviet republic have been strained and rumours first surfaced over a year ago that Moscow was backing a coup against Niyazov, who was offered the presidency for life from his compliant parliament in 1999.

Russia is frustrated by what it perceives as Niyazov's obstruction in dividing the mineral wealth of the Caspian Sea, a huge resource base which they share.

It is also unhappy with what it sees as his discrimination against ethnic Russians and his perceived failure to defend adequately Turkmenistan's border with Afghanistan, raising fears of refugees flooding into Central Asia and beyond.

Niyazov, speaking on state television on Monday, said four former senior officials were behind the attack: former Foreign Minister Boris Shikhmuradov, former central banker Khudoiberdy Orazov, former Deputy Agriculture Minister Sapar Yklymov, and Nurmukhammed Khanamov, a former ambassador to Turkey.

Durdyev said on Tuesday Yklymov had organised the weapons used in the plot while the others had financed him. He also singled out Orazov as enjoying Moscow's backing.

"There are interested politicians in Russia who protect Orazov. There exist recordings of Orazov with one very high official in the Russian government in which Orazov asks him to spirit him out of Turkmenistan. This actually happened when Orazov left the country."

"These people have chosen the path of naked terror and violence against Turkmenistan," he said.

Durdyev said 16 people had already been arrested, of whom four were ethnic Georgians.

Shikhmuradov was one of Niyazov's closest aides from when Turkmenistan achieved independence from the Soviet Union in 1991 as foreign minister for eight years and then ambassador to China.

But when Shikhmuradov, a former Soviet diplomat educated in Moscow, was recalled in October 2001, he fled instead to the Russian capital and launched a blistering attack on Niyazov.

Analysts said at the time it was inconceivable he would speak out in Moscow without at least tacit Russian backing, further fuelling speculation about a coup.

Ashgabat's response was to issue an arrest warrant for Shikhmuradov on a bewildering array of charges, including the theft of military jets worth nearly million. It is still seeking his extradition.

Niyazov, known as Turkmenbashi, or Leader of the Turkmen, and more commonly as Turkmenbashi the Great, rules his country with absolute power and encourages a bizarre personality cult.

Airports, cities, brands of perfume, even a meteorite are named after him, his pictures and statues are everywhere, and in August parliament overwhelmingly approved a proposal to rename all the months of the year after himself, his mother, and an idiosyncratic spiritual book penned by Turkmenbashi. /// Reuters

Sixteen arrested over attack on Turkmen president

Ashgabat, 26 Nov—A total of 16 people suspected of taking part in an assassination attempt against Turkmen President Saparmyrat Nyyazow have been detained, the head of the department for international information at the president's office, Serdar Durdyyew, said at a briefing today.

He said that four of the [suspected] assassination participants are of Georgian nationality and are not nationals of Turkmenistan. "In Asgabat they are being considered as mercenaries, and the incident itself is considered as an act of international terrorism aimed against the constitutional laws of Turkmenistan and at destabilizing the situation in the country," Durdyyew said.

He said that during interrogations of the participants in the attack it had emerged that the direct organizer of the attack on the president's cortege was the former first deputy minister of agriculture of Turkmenistan, Saparmyrat Yklymow [as received; should read Ymamberdi Yklymow, former agriculture minister], who has been living abroad in recent years.

Durdyyew said that according to the detainees they had been hired by Yklymow, who had provided them with cars and firearms.

Durdyyew described the former deputy prime minister and foreign minister Boris Syhmyradow, the former head of the Central Bank and deputy prime minister, Hudayberdi Orazow, and the former Turkmen ambassador to Turkey, Nurmuhammet Hanamow, as the financial and ideological inspiration for the assassination attempt against the Turkmen leader.

[Passage omitted: known details of assassination attempt] /// Interfax

16 Held in Turkmenistan Kill Plot

ASHGABAT, 26 Nov—Authorities detained 16 people suspected in an assassination attempt against Turkmen leader Saparmurat Niyazov, a presidential spokesman said Tuesday.

Niyazov was driving to work on Monday when a truck cut in front of his car and blocked the path of three accompanying cars. Gunmen opened fire on the convoy from two minibuses and a car, while other gunmen emerged from nearby buildings and fired, said the spokesman, Serdar Durdyev.

The president was unharmed, but several people were injured including a military police officer who tried to stop the truck but was run over, the spokesman said. Four of the detained suspects were Georgian nationals allegedly working for Niyazov political opponents living in exile, Durdyev said.

Under interrogation, the suspects identified former First Deputy Agriculture Minister Saparmurat Yklymov as the mastermind of the attack, the spokesman said. They said he gave them the vehicles and paid them, Durdyev said.

The others behind the attack were former Foreign Minister Boris Shikhmuradov, former Central Bank chief Khudaiberdi Orazov and former ambassador to Turkey Nurmukhammed Khanamov, he said. The four face charges at home -- Shikhmuradov, Orazov, and Khanamov for allegedly stealing state property -- and have taken refuge abroad, including in Russia.

Niyazov has ruled Turkmenistan since 1985, when it was still part of the Soviet Union. An authoritarian leader at the center of a cult of personality, he has resisted moves toward democracy and economic reforms and cracked down on dissent. The pro-democracy Open Society Institute, based in New York, warned in a statement Tuesday that Niyazov might use the alleged assassination attempt as an excuse to ``lash out at any opponents, real or imaginary.''

Durdyev said there would be ``no mass repression or persecution'' following the assassination attempt. /// AP

Federation Council surprised by Turkmenistan's official statement in Niyazov case

Moscow, 26 Nov—The Federation Council of Russia is surprised by a statement made by official Ashgabad that Russian politicians were involved in arranging yesterday's murderous attempt at Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov. Federation Council Speaker Sergey Mironov called this statement a "total absurd." At the same time, Head of the Foreign Committee of the parliament's upper house Mikhail Margelov considers it "such an absurd that it's not even worth commenting on it." "Russia is not a derelict country, planting international terrorism," he said. In the opinion of Head of the Defense and Security Committee Viktor Ozerov, it's investigators' business to determine who is guilty in this case, "but the fact that Turkmenistan is making such official statements seems strange to me." /// RosBusinessConsulting

Over 100 people arrested in Turkmenistan - unofficial information

Moscow, 26 Nov—NTV report: [Presenter] The attempt on the life of the president of Turkmenistan [Saparmyrat Nyyazow] is obtaining a truly international scale as a result of an initial investigation. Asgabat has prepared for Russia, or rather for some Russian politicians, the unenviable role of sponsors of the organizers of this crime. Moscow, which first maintained silence, later, through its senators, called this absurd. Anton Volskiy reports on the developments today...

[Correspondent] In a short space of time, the investigators have managed to uncover a whole terrorist network, the roots of which, as Asgabat says, go to Russia...

According to unofficial information, over 100 people have already been arrested in Asgabat, most of them are relatives of opposition leaders who are hiding abroad. However, the Turkmen authorities promise that there will be no repressions or mass arrests. After the news, the state TV channel showed a gala concert. /// NTV Mir, Moscow


Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov, as widely expected, is taking fast action to exact retribution against those he has accused of trying to assassinate him. Over 100 people were rounded up during the night of November 25-26, according to a Moscow-based human rights monitoring organization. Among those in custody are relatives of Saparmurat Yklimov, one of the opposition leaders singled out by Niyazov as a conspirator. Yklimov, in turn, has accused Niyazov of orchestrating the failed assassination as a pretext for a crackdown.

A Niyazov spokesman said November 26 that 16 people had been arrested in connection with a November 25 attack on the president’s motorcade in the capital, Ashgabat. [For background see the EurasiaNet archives]. But the human rights group Memorial, citing unofficial sources, put the number of arrests at over 100. Yklimov and other opposition leaders accused by Niyazov have categorically denied joining a plot to kill the Turkmen leader, who since the Soviet collapse has built a cult of personality that evokes comparisons to the Stalinist era. Niyazov also reportedly accused former Foreign Minister Boris Shikhmuradov, former Central Banker Khudaiberdy Orazov, and former ambassador to Turkey Nurmuhammed Khanamov of complicity in the coup attempt.

In the past 12 months, Shikhmuradov has vocally questioned Niyazov’s merits as a head of state from exile in Moscow. Russia has reportedly become impatient with Niyazov’s refusal to debate the division of the Caspian Sea or prosecute the war on terrorism, even as he proposes building a pipeline across neighboring Afghanistan to the Pakistan coast. According to the website, Niyazov’s spokesman accused Russian media of legitimizing exiled "activists" living in Russia.

Yklimov, a former Deputy Minister of Agriculture exiled in 1994 who lives in Sweden, has accused Niyazov of mounting a fresh campaign of mass repression. He also criticized the president’s coterie for temporarily indulging reports that Niyazov blamed Russian political figures, rather than political figures living in Russia, for the coup – even as he denounced the idea that he and his fellow exiles would ever endorse violence. "Russia has nothing to do with this," he told EurasiaNet in a phone interview. Instead, Yklimov drew comparisons to Nazi Germany. Niyazov’s charges, he said, are "a classic case of fabrication" and "an eerie reminder of events in Germany in 1933 when Hitler set fire to the Reichstag, setting the precedent for the murder of Jews."

"We condemn any violence, and we have always supported civilized methods," Yklimov told EurasiaNet, speaking for himself and Shikhmuradov. Shikhmuradov himself was not available for comment. On his web site, he declared that anyone in Turkmenistan might have been driven to homicide. "I have been asked the question ’Who could have fired at Niyazov?’ hundreds of times today," he said. "The answer is simple and frightening: Niyazov deserves as many deadly gunshots as lives and destinies he has ruined. There is no person in Turkmenistan today who would not like to be free of the dictator’s oppression."

In his interview with EurasiaNet, though, Yklimov renounced the use of violence for political ends. "As a member of the peaceful opposition, we view opposition activity as an intellectual challenge.

People not up to the intellectual argument, [like Niyazov,] are cheating." Yklimov told EurasiaNet that police had arrested nurses caring for his 75-year-old disabled mother and that a police officer answered the phone when he called his daughter’s apartment in Ashgabat. "Now there are three or four policemen sitting around my mother’s bed," he said.

As this indicates, debate inside Turkmenistan is probably less strident. Memorial, the human rights organization in Moscow, issued a press release charging that Niyazov had not mustered any evidence to back his charges but predicting that "suspects’ relatives [may] be accused of fabricated charges." Within the country, state television reportedly did not cover the assassination attempt until Niyazov himself spoke about it.

And economically, little about the country’s gas-dependent, essentially closed economy appears likely to change in the short term. "I suppose if Niyazov weren’t there, you might see some outbreak of small private enterprise," says Martha Blaxall, an economist who studies the region. "But that isn’t going to happen." /// Eurasia Net, 26 Nov

Murder mastermind had Russian support: Niyazov

Ashgabat, 26 Nov—Turkmenistan’s autocratic ruler Saparmurat Niyazov accused exiled opponents of trying to unseat him with support from Russia as his police arrested 16 people on Tuesday after an assassination attempt against the president.

Niyazov, 62, who has ruled for the past 17 years with an iron fist over this largely desert but energy-rich Central Asian republic, survived unhurt after gunmen fired at his motorcade in the capital Ashkhabad on Monday.

His spokesman Serdar Durdiyev said testimony given by the 16 people detained since the incident had established that the chief organiser of the murder bid was a former deputy agriculture minister, Sapar Yklymov.

Behind him, stood former foreign minister Boris Shikhmuradov, former central banker Khudoiberdy Orazov and Nurmukhammed Khanamov, an ex-ambassador to Turkey, the spokesman added.

“The aim of this act was to destabilise the situation in the republic. People tried to openly use terror against Turkmenistan, law and order and the constitutional norms,” he told reporters.

Durdiyev pointed the finger at unnamed political figures in Russia, who he said sponsored the opposition politicians in their efforts to overthrow Niyazov.

“This act was ordered and organised from abroad. I cannot say that this was from Russia, but there are certainly politicians in Russia who protected the organisers of this act,” he said.

A Russian government official dismissed the accusations out of hand. “We don’t see the need to comment on a statement that does not contain a single fact or person’s name,” the official told the RIA-Novosti news agency, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The official Neutralny Turkmenistan newspaper reported that the incident happened when the presidential motorcade was travelling along the city’s Turkmenbashi street, which is named after the president.

A Kamaz lorry blocked the two rear vehicles of the column and guns were fired from its cabin and two other vehicles when the truck was approached by a traffic policeman, the newspaper reported. According to the paper, all three vehicles belonged to a firm owned by the former deputy agricultural minister Yklymov.

“Preliminary investigation shows that the traces of the evil plot lead to some friendly countries,” the newspaper added. Niyazov has already appealed to Turkey and Russia to hand over Turkmen opposition leaders who are living in self-imposed exile abroad.

The president, who likes to drive himself around Ashkhabad in an armoured black Mercedes, said a traffic policeman had been injured in the incident and taken to hospital.Turkmenistan’s prosecutor general had launched a criminal investigation into the case, officials said.

Of the 16 people arrested so far, four were of Georgian origin, according to the presidential spokesman. There was no independent information available on the incident.

Known as Turkmenbashi or Father of all Turkmen, Niyazov has ruled with an iron fist since independence in 1991 and declared himself president-for-life in 1999.

Communist Party chief since 1985 when Turkmenistan was part of the Soviet Union, he has constructed a Stalinesque personality cult around himself in his nation of five million people.

Niyazov has a giant golden statue of himself, which rotates towards the sun, atop a huge Arch of Neutrality in the capital’s main square. Huge posters of Niyazov adorn buildings across the largely desert state’s towns and cities.

Rights watchdogs have accused the president of crushing the independent media, staging rigged elections and widespread human rights abuses in Turkmenistan, which shares a border with Iran and Afghanistan. But discontent is reported to be spreading through the political elite who are frequently subject to arbitrary cabinet reshuffles and humiliating rebukes, often broadcast live on television by the president.

“I think that the extent to which Niyazov has alienated his own government is underestimated,” said Alexander Zaslavsky, director of consulting at the New York-based Eurasia political risk consultancy.

Observers warn of repression after assassination bid
Observers on Tuesday predicted a new round of crackdowns in Turkmenistan after its authoritarian president Saparmurat Niyazov survived an assassination attempt.

“What we can assume is that there will be a new round of domestic repression,” said Alexander Zaslavsky, director of consulting with the New York-based Eurasia political risk consultancy.

But while a presidential spokesman said Tuesday that Turkmen police had already arrested 16 people suspected of involvement in the attack, he was quick to add that there would be no large-scale repression. “There will be no mass repression or arrests,” Serdar Durdiyev told reporters. However, the Neutralny Turkmenistan daily reported Tuesday that a manhunt had been launched to find those involved in the assassination attempt.

The paper also directly linked one of Niyazov’s opponents to the attack, saying that that three vehicles used by the attackers belonged to a firm owned by former deputy agriculture minister Sapar Yklymov. Niyazov’s spokesman Serdar Durdiyev said that testimony given by those people detained since the incident had established that Yklymov was the chief organiser. In a hint of a crackdown in Turkmenistan against relatives of the exiled politicia, he warned darkly that “his entire family is caught up in this.”

Niyazov, a Soviet-style autocratic leader, said late Monday that gunmen had opened fire on his cortege early that day, killing a policeman, but that he had survived the apparent assassination bid, viewed as the most serious challenge yet to his 17-year-long rule.

He accused political opponents of being behind the attack, including former foreign minister Boris Shikhmuradov, former central banker Khudoiberdy Orazov, Nurmukhammed Khanamov, an ex-ambassador to Turkey, and Yklymov. Known as Turkmenbashi or Father of all Turkmen, Niyazov has ruled this gas-rich country of five million people bordering on Iran and Afghanistan with an iron hand since he became Communist Party chief in 1985. Niyazov, who is the subject of an elaborate personality cult, has now amassed absolute power in Turkmenistan, where he was declared president-for-life in 1999. /// AFP

Russia blamed for bid on Turkmen leader

ASHGABAT, 26 Nov—Russian politicians were behind Monday's apparent assassination attempt against Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov, a top Turkmen official said Tuesday.

"I cannot say that this (was organized) in Russia, but I can officially say that in Russia there are political figures patronizing the organizers of the (assassination) attempt," Serdar Durdyev, the head of the Department for International Information at the Turkmen president's office, said. Durdyev said the attack on Niyazov was ordered and organized outside Turkmenistan.

On Monday, attackers opened fire at Niyazov's motorcade as it traveled to the presidential palace in Ashgabat. The president, who later said he had not realized he was being fired upon, was unharmed. No one was hurt. "One of very high officials in the Russian government" helped Khudayberdy Orazov, a Niyazov opponent, to leave Turkmenistan illegally a year ago, Durdyev said.

He said Turkmen authorities had recorded a telephone conversation between a Russian official and Orazov, in which the former Turkmen deputy prime minister asked the Russian for his help in leaving the country. Relations between the two nations have been strained over Moscow's perception that Niyazov is blocking the division of the Caspian Sea's vast mineral wealth. Earlier this year, there were rumors Russia was supporting a coup against Niyazov.

Durdyev said Orazov, former Foreign Minister Boris Shikhmuradov and Nurmukhammed Hanamov, the former Turkmen ambassador to Turkey and Israel, were the financial and ideological backers of the assassination bid. On Monday, Niyazov also blamed former Agriculture Deputy Minister Saparmurad Yklymov for the shooting. Yklymov, who lives in Sweden, denied any role and said Turkmen authorities had detained his relatives.

Durdyev said 16 people had been arrested in connection with Monday's attack, including four Georgians. Turkmen officials called the incident "an act of international terrorism." Critics said, however, Niyazov staged the attack.

In its 2001 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, the U.S. State Department called Turkmenistan "a one-party state dominated by its president and his closest advisers, who continue to exercise power in a Soviet-era authoritarian style."

Earlier this year, the People's Council of Turkmenistan declared Niyazov president for life. The president, who is known as Turkmenbashi (head of all Turkmens), was the head of the Turkmen Communist Party in 1985 and has been president since his country became independent in 1991. The Democratic Party, the successor of the Communist Party, is the country's sole political group. /// UPI

Turkmenistan: Government Must Seek Justice Not Revenge

Amnesty International believes that any action the government of Turkmenistan takes to bring to justice those involved in yesterday's assassination attempt on President Saparmurad Niyazov must strictly abide by international human rights law.
"Precisely at times of heightened tensions governments must ensure that all measures taken are in accordance with international human rights law. We are particularly concerned that the government's response to the assassination attempt may lead to a new wave of clampdown on dissent in Turkmenistan", Amnesty International said.

Amnesty International received worrying reports that many people have been detained following yesterday's events. According to official figures issued today, 16 people were detained. Unofficial sources reportedly claimed that more than one hundred people have been detained.

"We urge the Turkmen authorities to ensure that those detained have access to legal counsel promptly and throughout the investigation and that they are not subjected to torture or ill-treatment, as enshrined in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights that Turkmenistan is a party to. The detainees should be either charged with a recognizable offence or released," the organization said.

The organization is concerned that many of those detained may have been targeted because of their family relations with exiled opposition figures, who were named as suspects by the President. At least 18 relatives of Saparmurad Yklymov, the former Deputy Minister of Agriculture, who Saparmurad Niyazov yesterday labelled as "the immediate organizer of the terrorist act", have reportedly been detained and the whereabouts of at least one more person is currently unknown.

The President publicly implicated exiled opposition figures Saparmurad Yklymov, the former Foreign Minister Boris Shikhmuradov, former head of Turkmenistan's central bank Khudayberdy Orazov, and Nurmukhamed Khanamov, ex-ambassador to Turkey in the assassination attempt.

The Central Asian state of Turkmenistan became independent following the break-up of the Soviet Union in 1991. Since then it has been dominated by President Saparmurad Niyazov, who has exercised a monopoly on power as both head of state and head of government. The government is intolerant of dissent, restricting political and civil liberties and retaining tight control of the media.

Protest against the regime has grown more vocal throughout recent years. Several senior officials defected this and last year, including Boris Shikhmuradov, Khudayberdy Orazov and Nurmukhamed Khanomov.

Numerous senior officials were demoted, dismissed or imprisoned in Turkmenistan this year in what appeared to be a politically motivated purge. In many cases, civil society activists, supporters and alleged supporters of the opposition, and their relatives faced harassment and threats by the security service.

Numerous members and supporters of opposition groups are reportedly barred from leaving or entering the country. Clandestine mass dissemination of anti-government leaflets was reported from Ashgabat and the Northern city of Dashoguz in August and October respectively. /// Press Release by Amnesty International, International Secretariat, 1 Easton Street, WC1X 8DJ, London, United Kingdom, 26 Nov

Turkmenistan: Opposition Figures Deny Role In Assassination Attempt

Prague, 26 Nov- Three of the people named by Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov as the organizers of an attempt on his life contacted RFE/RL's Turkmen Service today to deny the charge.

Niyazov's motorcade came under fire yesterday morning in downtown Ashgabat as the Turkmen president traveled to work. Niyazov was not hurt, though one policeman and several bystanders were injured during the exchange of fire.

Niyazov said shortly afterward that former Deputy Agriculture Minister Sapar Iklymov planned the attack. Niyazov said Iklymov was helped by former Foreign Minister Boris Shikhmuradov, former National Bank chief Khudaiberdy Orazov, and former Ambassador to Turkey Nurmukhammed Khanamov.

All four currently live outside Turkmenistan. Orazov, Khanamov, and Iklymov denied having any part in the attack.

Orazov questioned whether it really was an assassination attempt, noting that it was common knowledge that Niyazov's vehicles are double-armor plated. He said any attempt to kill Niyazov by using machine guns, as the attackers did, would therefore be futile. Orazov also questioned why the attackers let Niyazov's car pass by before they started their attack.

Turkmen authorities claimed today to have detained 16 people, four of them ethnic Georgians, in connection with the assassination attempt. The Russian human rights organization Memorial said the accurate figure was closer to 100. Iklymov said many of those arrested are his relatives.

Earler today, Niyazov's spokesman said Russia played a role in the failed assassination attempt on Niyazov yesterday. Serdar Durdiev said the orders to kill Niyazov came from abroad. Durdiev said he could not say for certain the order came from Russia, but the Reuters news agency quotes him as saying he is certain "political activists in Russia" are protecting "organizers and motivators." /// RFE/RL

Turkmenistan to cancel securities from Jan 1 2003

ASHGABAD. 26 Nov—Turkmenistan will cancel government securities in circulation from January 1 2003, President of Turkmenistan Saparmurad Niyazov said at a government session Monday.

Economy and Finance Minister Dortkuli Aydogdyev was instructed to prepare the draft for the pertinent decree, which is to be signed on December 25 (since 1996 Turkmenistan has issued promissory notes and bonds).

The president said the practice of issuing promissory notes and bonds did not justify itself "because since 1996 they have not become full- fledged monetary instruments, triggering regular delays in public sector salaries and a rise in mutual non-payments of government companies and organizations."

It is not yet clear whether payments will be made after January 1 on securities that have already been issued. Niyazov did not propose any alternatives to the securities. /// Interfax

Turkmen president speaks about shooting incident – More Details

Ashgabat, 25 Nov—Turkmenistan's president, Saparmyrat Nyyazow, described the shooting incident in the Turkmen capital, Asgabat, on 25 November as an act of conspiracy designed by certain foreign law-enforcement agencies. Speaking at an expanded session of the government held on the same day, Nyyazow also blamed the Turkmen opposition in exile, headed by ex-foreign minister Boris Syhmyradow, for being responsible. "They just want to disturb the situation in Turkmenistan, which would make it possible for them to get back here," Nyyazow noted. The following are excerpts from Nyyazow's remarks, broadcast on the same day by Turkmen TV Altyn Asyr channel. Subheadings have been inserted editorially.

[Presenter] Turkmenistan's president, Saparmyrat Turkmenbasy [Nyyazow] the Great, today received a group of architects and designers headed by Aldo Carbonaro of France's Bouygues Batiment [construction] firm.

[Passage omitted: correspondent's voice over video of Nyyazow standing in front of a map and talking to the designers]

Then Turkmenistan's president, Saparmyrat Turkmenbasy [Nyyazow] the Great, held an expanded meeting of the Cabinet of Ministers. Its agenda included various important issues presented for consideration.

[Passage omitted: Nyyazow shown sitting at a desk and making remarks and officials taking notes; remarks on Asgabat's future appearance and on making its environment healthier; some 3.7m trees to be planted this winter; Nyyazow then speaks about a specific issue]

Nyyazow himself was not aware of what happened
[Nyyazow in Turkmen] Let me brief you about one more issue in order to prevent any kind of gossip. Law-enforcement officers are carrying out investigations. There is no room for gossip; some foreign agencies reported it as early as 0930 [Asgabat time; 0430 gmt ITAR-TASS reported the incident at 1410 gmt]. You would have heard about this sooner or later, but, to be honest, this is not a matter of great concern to me.

It happened at 0700 [0200 gmt], when I passed this point, right over there in that district, a Kamaz [truck] three or four [word indistinct] blocked the crossroads. The GAI [traffic police] who were following me ended up behind the Kamaz. I ended up on the other side. I was not aware of anything and came to work. Then at work I was informed that there was shooting going on there. They told me that people had come out of a Kamaz, a Gazel [Russian-made van] and a BMW and started shooting from both sides. A young lad from the Defence Ministry's GAI who tried to stop the Kamaz was knocked down by it. Even bleeding, he tried to stop it [the truck] by clinging to the side and was dragged along for some time. He showed true courage and is currently being treated in hospital, where he is undergoing surgery.

All cars belonged to former agriculture chief's family
All of the vehicles, the Kamaz, Gazel and BMW, belong to the Yklymows, who have a firm there named Ojak or something like this. Most of these people have already been picked up and are now giving evidence. It was Yklymow who ordered them to provide the Kamaz for four young men, all of whom were armed. Those who were shooting stayed on the right-hand side of the street, where there is a stadium, and some of their bullets hit the BMW and their own people too. It happened right by the stadium, so they probably dispersed in it. Their cars have state registration plates.

The Yklymows have been detained, and, Yklymow reportedly admitted that he himself lent his Kamaz truck and another vehicle to the four men.

Opposition blamed for being behind incident
These men - [changes tack]. Behind all this are [Nurmuhammet] Hanamow [former Turkmen ambassador to Turkey], [Hudayberdi] Orazow [former head of the Turkmen Central Bank], Boris Syhmyradow [former Turkmen foreign minister] and [Ymamberdi] Yklymow [former agriculture minister].

[Passage omitted: allegations of crimes the four men are said to have committed]

Everything about them has become known, so they are now acting in fear of it all. All the evidence points to them - to Yklymow and others.

On the other hand, there was my own generosity, otherwise Yklymow ought to have been jailed in 1986. Taygeldi [untraced] was a minister then and I told him that all these people should be jailed immediately because in 1991, when there was no more USSR, a group of men calling themselves democrats, went out into the streets and made a fuss. On the other hand, some high-level officials committed acts of embezzlement right at that time in the cotton, oil and gas sectors. However, I decided not to spoil our country by jailing all of them. Let them go free so that they could correct themselves. Unfortunately, today we are gathering the fruits of this. As a result, some dirty men fled at the time when investigations were under way into their deeds. The Prosecutor [General]'s Office, the KGB [National Security Ministry] are now looking into their files.

All of their misdeeds have become known, so [criminal] cases have been instituted against them.

Opposition seeks to disturb situation in country
They just want to disturb the situation in Turkmenistan, which would make it possible for them to get back here. Let us remember that nobody, not me nor anyone else, will live longer than God permits. On the other hand, I am not bothered unduly that there are such attempts. We will bring them to justice sooner or later, so there is no escape for them.

Those detained will get their deserved punishment. But they are just mercenaries, high on drugs and ordered to shoot. They will be punished, though they are not the key figures. There are others who are behind them, who hired them and organized such acts. There will be no escape for them either. Of course, they will try one way or another [to escape], but we will get them in the end, since there is no way out for them. I have already made several appeals to the leadership of Russia and Turkey to help get them back.

There, on the fringes of Russia, in some places, they are concocting dirty deeds and making money from drugs. So there is no way out for them and they cannot achieve anything. [Break in reception due to technical problems]

Certain agencies have interests in Turkmenistan
How did it happen that foreign agencies already reported on this [the incident] at 0930, although nobody in Turkmenistan was aware of it? One can see some conspiracy here because certain law-enforcement agencies have special interests here. History knows many such examples. God protects everybody because every individual is given his own life term. So far, the National Security Ministry, the Internal Affairs Ministry and the Prosecutor-General's office are all carrying out their investigations. Everything will be investigated in compliance with the law, and the punishment will also be in accordance with the law. So there is no room for gossip. However, let us remain vigilant and not allow our country to be fooled.

It was Yklymow himself who ordered: "Give these four men the Kamaz truck tomorrow." And it has also become known that the private registration plate of the BMW car was replaced by a state one. We also know the registration plates of the two Gazel cars [of Yklymow's]. There is no secret about this in Turkmenistan.

These men, probably high on opium or heroin, ran out just beside a block of flats. Please don't believe any gossip - that's why I am telling you all this. Let us live without fear and hesitation. We will not allow any person to commit an act of dishonesty. At the same time, nobody in Turkmenistan complains of being deprived of his freedom. Not a single person in Turkmenistan has been charged just for having a different opinion. This time, we are pardoning some 8,000 criminals because we are confident. However, there is a need now to be a bit more vigilant and not pardon those detained just recently. That is why I pardoned 8,000 and no more. Eight thousand is quite enough so far, though we could free all of them without worrying about them inflicting any harm on the country.

[Passage omitted to end: repeat about the recent pardoning decree; market economy should not add to people's hardships; state interference in the economy is practised in developed countries] /// Turkmen TV

Tracer continues pursuit of Adzhiyap Concession in Turkmenistan

CALGARY, Alberta, 26 Nov—The following was released on behalf of the Board of Tracer Petroleum Corporation (OTC Bulletin Board: TCXXF), by Larry Youell, President and CEO:

In Turkmenistan, the Company's pursuit of the Adzhiyap Concession remains ongoing with both Tracer and Canneft in continued discussion with the Government of Turkmenistan and it prospective partners. The Company will be attending further meetings as well as the Turkmenistan Oil and Gas Conference in mid-December. The Company is pleased with the ongoing relations between itself, Canneft and the prospective Joint venture partners, and believes that there continues to be a concerted effort towards completing a Production Sharing Contract. /// Press Release by TRACER PETROLEUM CORPORATION

Trans-Afghan Pipeline Summit Rescheduled for 26 December

Ashgabat, 27 Nov—Turkmen Radio report: [Presenter] A telephone conversation took place today between Turkmenistan's president, Saparmyrat Turkmenbasy [Nyyazow] the Great and the head of Afghanistan's transitional government, Hamed Karzai. The Afghan leader, who earlier [on 26 November] sent a message of sympathy to the Turkmen leader in connection with the terrorist act in [the Turkmen capital, attempt on Nayyzow's life], today made a telephone call to express his satisfaction with the happy outcome of the incident.

[Correspondent] Having severely condemned this criminal act aimed at the destabilization of the situation in Turkmenistan and disturbance of the peaceful and tranquil life of the nation, Hamed Karzai conveyed his confidence that the Turkmen people, under the leadership of Saparmyrat Turkmenbasy the Great, will pass successfully through this trial of destiny and continue heading along the trail of the Golden Age in unity and accord.

Saparmyrat Turkmenbasy the Great warmly thanked Hamed Karzai for his good wishes and invited him to visit Asgabat on 26-27 December [2002] to sign a trilateral [Turkmen-Afghan-Pakistan] agreement on the construction of the Trans-Afghan gas pipeline. Then the leaders of the three states will visit Afghanistan to inaugurate the start of construction of a power transmission line in Herat Province of Afghanistan.

The Turkmen president also told Hamed Karzai that a number of Afghan citizens had been released from Turkmenistan's prisons under a pardoning decree traditionally issued in Turkmenistan in the Holy Night of Ramadan. The Afghan leader warmly welcomed this news and thanked Saparmyrat Turkmenbasy for his humane act and mercifulness and also for inviting him to visit the Turkmen capital. The invitation was accepted with deep gratitude.

At the end of the conversation the two state leaders conveyed to each other wishes of sound health and the successful accomplishment of all tasks and prosperity to the peoples of two neighbouring countries. /// Turkmen Radio

AFP reports: An ambitious project to build a gas pipeline linking Turkmenistan to Pakistan through Afghanistan is expected to be launched next month at a summit here, Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov said Wednesday.

Niyazov invited his Afghan counterpart Hamid Karzai by telephone Wednesday to attend a three-way summit in Ashkhabad on December 26-27, the television network reported. Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf also is expected to attend, it said. The three presidents had been due to sign the agreement in October, but the summit was delayed at the request of Musharraf.

The project to build the 1,500-kilometre, two-billion-dollar gas link from Turkmenistan fields across Afghanistan to Pakistan has been on the table for 20 years and has a long and chequered history.

US energy company Unocal led efforts to build the line, but its plans were scuppered in 1998 when US cruise missiles struck Al Qaeda training camps in Afghanistan. However, since the fall of the Taliban, the plan has been pushed back onto the energy agenda by regional leaders./// AFP

AP reports: A summit during which the leaders of Afghanistan, Pakistan and Turkmenistan are expected to sign a framework agreement on a gas pipeline has been tentatively scheduled for later this month.

Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov invited Afghan President Hamid Karzai to the Turkmen capital Ashgabat on Dec. 26-27 for the signing, Niyazov's office said Wednesday. Karzai accepted the invitation, according to Turkmen officials.

It was not immediately clear if Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf would also attend, although Niyazov's office referred to a trilateral meeting.

The signing ceremony had originally been scheduled for last month but was postponed indefinitely because Pakistani officials were busy forming a Cabinet and because of questions raised by the Asian Development Bank about financial aspects of the plan.

The nations want to build a 1,460-kilometer (907-mile) gas pipeline from the vast Dauletabad-Donmez fields of Turkmenistan, across landlocked Afghanistan to a terminus in Pakistan.

At an estimated cost of US billion, the pipeline would open an outlet at Pakistan's Arabian Sea port of Karachi to Asian markets for the former Soviet republic of Turkmenistan, which has the world's fourth largest gas reserves. /// AP

Turkmen protest meeting demands death sentence for conspirators

Ashgabat, 27 Nov—A protest rally took place today in the Turkmen capital, Asgabat, with its participants all voicing their firm support for the country's president, Saparmyrat Nyyazow, who escaped an assassination attempt on 25 November. The speakers at the meeting, broadcast on the same day by the state-run Altyn Asyr TV, said that the conspirators behind the attack should be brought to justice. They blamed Boris Syhmyradow, Hudayberdi Orazow, Nurmuhammet Hanamow and Saparmyrat [Ymamberdi] Yklymow, all members of the Turkmen opposition in exile, as the organizers of the abortive attack. In this, they were following the lead set by Nyyazow himself shortly after the attack.

One of the speakers, Myrat Garryyew, the head of the Central Committee on Elections and Referendums in Turkmenistan, wondered how it was that the Russian media were so quick to report the incident. "I think that this act had been planned well in advance, and the people there [in Russia] were aware of it too," he said.

Another speaker, Turkmenistan's chief mufti, Nasrullah Ibn Ibadullah, said: "The organizers of this act, people like Boris Syhmyradow, Orazow, Yklymow and Hanamow will not be favoured by Almighty God, even if they repent."

All speakers at the meeting demanded severe punishment for the perpetrators and inspirers of the act. "These persons should be brought back [to Turkmenistan] by any means, even by appealing to the United Nations, because all of them are criminals," said Myratberdi Sopyyew, a farmer whom President Nyyazow had promoted to the rank of Hero of Turkmenistan early this year.

Families of Yklymov and Jumayev are greatly involved in this crime. Those family members of their families, who were involved in this crime, have been taken in custody.

So far 20 persons suspected to be involved in this crime have been taken under arrest for investigation. Some foreigners including Georgians, Armenians and Russians are among those who had been hired to commit this act of terrorism. /// Turkmen TV reports: A rally in protest at the actions of the organizers and executers of the terrorist act carried out on 25 November, and in support for the policies of Turkmen President Saparmyrat Nyyazow was held today in the Turkmen capital.

The rally was organized by the Democratic Party of Turkmenistan and the National Revival Movement of Turkmenistan [both chaired by President Nyyazow] and gathered the residents of the capital representing all strata of society ranging from students to respectable elders, representatives of various professions, and well-known public and political figures of Turkmenistan, an Asgabat correspondent of Turkmenistan.RU reported.

The speakers at the rally resolutely condemned the criminal action that was carried out in the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, and also supported the policy of President Saparmyrat Nyyazow directed at strengthening stability and state development. ///

ITAR-TASS reports: A meeting in [the Turkmen capital] Asgabat on Wednesday [27 November] demanded the death penalty for the attackers of Turkmen President Saparmyrat Nyyazow.

His motorcade came under a fire attack from a truck and two cars on Monday [25 November].

The 1,500-strong meeting of representatives of 70 public groups unanimously voted for asking the parliament of the Central Asian republic to pass a special resolution saying that "all masterminds and perpetrators of the attempt on the life of the president must be declared traitors of the Motherland, and the death penalty must be applied to them on an exception basis". Capital punishment was banned in Turkmenistan in 1999.

The meeting's participants also called for an address to governments of countries where four former high-ranking government officials branded by Nyyazow as organizers of the assassination attempt are staying. "They must be turned over to Turkmenistan, where they will be put on trial and punished," one of speakers said. /// ITAR-TASS

Interfax reports: A rally in support of Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov was held in Ashgabat on Wednesday.

The public movement Revival and the Democratic Party chaired by Niyazov organized the rally, which was attended by about 1,500 people. Regarding the recent attack on Niyazov, Democratic Party Secretary Ondzhik Musayev denounced the "scoundrels that took the path of shaitan."

Niyazov's motorcade was attacked on Monday on the way from his country residence to downtown Ashgabat. Although several people, including a traffic police officer, were wounded in the attack, Niyazov was not hurt.

Turkmen media outlets published letters in support of Niyazov. "This brutal and barbaric event saddens all believers in Turkmenistan," the Neutral Turkmenistan newspaper wrote. The Religious Affairs Council affiliated with the president reaffirmed the general support for the president and urged Niyazov "not to lose optimism." "This incident will unite the people around you," the council said in a statement.

"The public has denounced those who took part in this plot," Revival said in a statement addressed to the president. /// Interfax

AP reports: About 1,700 people staged a rally in the Turkmen capital on Wednesday, calling for the death penalty to be reinstated for anyone convicted in the assassination attempt against leader Saparmurat Niyazov.

The rally participants, organized by a political party associated with Niyazov, asked lawmakers to temporarily restore the death penalty. Turkmenistan has banned capital punishment since 1999.

The demonstrators said the "organizers and executors of the terrorist act must be accused of being traitors to their homeland and the death penalty must be applied to them as an exception."

Niyazov was driving to work on Monday when a truck cut in front of his car and blocked the path of three accompanying cars. Gunmen opened fire on the convoy from two minibuses and a car, while other gunmen emerged from nearby buildings and fired, according to the presidential spokesman.

The president was unharmed, but several people were injured including a military police officer who tried to stop the truck but was run over, the spokesman said.

Sixteen suspects were detained. Four Georgians were among the detainees, but Archil Chkhartishvili, spokesman for the Georgian Intelligence Office, said none of the four were involved. He said they were detained because they didn't have valid Turkmen visas.

Officials in Niyazov's office said that some of the suspects identified the alleged organizers. Those named include former First Deputy Agriculture Minister Saparmurat Yklymov, former Foreign Minister Boris Shikhmuradov, former Central Bank chief Khudaiberdi Orazov and former ambassador to Turkey Nurmukhammed Khanamov.

The four already face charges at home — Shikhmuradov, Orazov, and Khanamov for allegedly stealing state property — and have taken refuge abroad, including in Russia.

Niyazov has ruled Turkmenistan since 1985, when it was still part of the Soviet Union. An authoritarian leader at the center of a cult of personality, he has resisted moves toward democracy and economic reforms and cracked down on dissent. /// AP

Itera to remain main operator in Turkmen gas deals

Ashgabat, 27 Nov—Text of a report by the international news department of the office of the Turkmen president in a Turkmen Foreign Ministry press release on 27 November

On instructions from Turkmenistan's president, Saparmyrat Turkmenbasy [Nyyazow], talks were held on 27 November in [the Turkmen capital] Asgabat between the Turkmen government and the head of the Itera group of companies, Igor Makarov.

The sides praised the current state of mutually beneficial cooperation in the oil and gas field and in other areas of economy, as well as the prospects for it.

In this context, some other issues were also discussed during the meeting, concerning Itera's commitments under the contract on transportation and sale of 10bn cubic metres of Turkmen gas next year. Igor Makarov reaffirmed Itera's readiness, as agreed with the Turkmen president, to continue its task as the operator, arranging the transportation and sale of Turkmen gas in foreign markets.

The sides also agreed on some preparatory steps to be made, together with Russia's Rosneft [Russian Oil] and Zarubezhneft [Foreign Oil] companies, on projects for developing offshore oil and gas fields on the Turkmen shelf of the Caspian Sea. /// Press Release by International Press Department at President Niyazov’s Office reports: Today the members of the Turkmen government and head of ITREA Company, Igor Makarov had talks in Ashkhabad, correspondent of Turkmenistan was informed from the presidential press office. During the talks the sides highly estimated the state and perspectives of mutually beneficial cooperation in oil and gas sphere and other spheres of economy. In this context, during the meeting the sides discussed issues covering implementation by ITERA of the contract on transportation and selling of a 10 billion cubic meters of gas next year.

Igor Makarov confirmed readiness of ITERA to continue in 2003 being an operator of the project on transportation and implementation of Turkmen natural gas to the foreign markets. Moreover, the sides agreed on certain steps aimed at preparation for implementation of projects on exploration of oil and gas fields on the Turkmen shelf of the Caspian Sea together with the Russian Rosneft and Zarubejneft companies. ///

Kawasaki Heavy, Mitsubishi to build cement plant in Turkmenistan

TOKYO, 27 Nov—KAWASAKI HEAVY INDUSTRIES LTD. (TSE:7012) and MITSUBISHI CORP. (TSE:8058) have received an order, believed to be worth 3 billion yen (US.66 million), from a Turkish company to build a cement plant in Turkmenistan. The plant, to be completed in April 2005, will be located about 75km to the west of Ashkhabad, the capital of Turkmenistan.

* The factory, with a daily production capacity of 3,000 tons of cement, will supply about 40-50 per cent of domestic demand.

* Turkmenistan uses around 2 million tons of cement a year. /// Asia In Focus, JAPAN

Georgian and Afghan leaders expresses support for Turkmen president

Ashgabat, 27 Nov—To His Excellency, the president of Turkmenistan, Mr Saparmyrat Atayewic Nyyazow.

Esteemed Mr Saparmyrat Atayewic, I received the news on the attempt on your life with outrage. I consider this terrorist act as an attempt directed against the statehood of fraternal Turkmenistan. I was happy to hear the news about your safety. The Georgian government and nation, resolutely condemning terrorism and its supporters, express their support for you and wish you sound health and success.

Sincerely, Eduard Shevardnadze, President of Georgia. /// Turkmen TV

Hamid Karzai’s letter to President Niyazov: To His Excellency, the president of Turkmenistan, Mr Saparmyrat [Nyyazow] Turkmenbasy.

With great regret, I express my sorrow over the attempt on Your Excellency's life. I thank God that the life of Your Excellency, the president of Turkmenistan, was not harmed. I condemn this terrorist act on behalf of the interim government of the Islamic State of Afghanistan, the Afghan nation and myself.

Taking advantage of this opportunity, I wish Your Excellency sound health and long life, and happiness and prosperity to the Turkmen nation.

Sincerely, Hamed Karzai, Chairman of the interim government of the Islamic State of Afghanistan. /// Turkmen TV


Moscow, 27 Nov—I condemn this attack addressed to shaking stability in Turkmenistan. Turkey, as a state who faced terrorism, attached big role to bilateral and international cooperation in fight with this evil,”the Turkish president Ahmet Sezer writes addressing to the Turkmen President.

In his telegram the head of the Afghani government Hamid Karzay harshly criticized and condemned this act of terrorism.

“Ukraine, which always condemns any forms of terrorism, was shocked and bewildered by this news,” the Ukrainian president Leonid Kuchma stated, expressing hope that “executors of this act will be brought to court and punished.

”Georgian president Edward Shewardnadze qualified this act of terrorism as a threat to the statehood of friendly Turkmenistan. The Turkmen president also talked with president of Tajikistan, Emomali Rakhmonov and ex-president of Turkey Suleyman Demirel, who named the incident as act of terrorism, harshly condemning it, Ashkhabad’s correspondent of reports citing the presidential press office. ///

Turkmenistan: President Might Overreact Following Attack

An unknown assailant peppered the motorcade of Turkmen President Saparmurad Niyazov with submachine-gun fire on Nov. 25, Interfax reported. Although the president was unharmed, the attack was the first public assassination attempt against him. His reaction likely will burn the few bridges Ashgabat has to the outside world.

Niyazov is best known as the "Turkmenbashi," an adopted title that means "Father of all Turkmen." Niyazov has renamed most significant locales in the country -- ports, parks, streets, etc. -- after himself, and his self-celebratory nature has led to a veritable army of commemorative golden statutes and a line of personalized commercial goods, complete with his own brand of vodka. Meanwhile, little of the country's meager income goes toward help its citizens, and Turkmenistan's foreign relations have been equally bizarre under Niyazov's rule.

While there is no evidence that any specific group was behind the recent attack, the deliriously erratic mind of the "Bashi" makes it likely that he will act against the variety of threats he believes are assailing him. Niyazov feels he must prove he is both personally secure and professionally in control. The result most likely will be a wide-ranging series of security sweeps in which every power group with any presence in the country, including domestic and foreign business and political interests, faces an inquisition.

This will not improve Niyazov's relations with anyone. He already has alienated Moscow with his intransigence over natural gas supplies, and Washington for his lack of cooperation in the war on terrorism. Niyazov's unpredictability also has scared most foreign investors away, and the few that remain are active only in Turkmenistan's sector of the oil-rich Caspian Sea. And even those companies are likely to rethink their involvement should the president's cleansing efforts prove more than window dressing. /// Stratfor, 25 Nov

Georgia did not participate in assassination attempt on Turkmenbashi, spokesman of Georgian State Minister says

Tbilisi, 28 Nov—It is confirmed that Georgians, arrested on November 25 in Ashgabad, did not participate in assassination attempt against Turkmenistan President Saparmurad Niyazov - spokesman of the Georgian State Security Ministry Nika Laliashvili told Civil Georgia.

As Laliashvili says, the Georgian side was informed by Turkmenistan law enforcers that no Georgian citizens are among the suspects.

Laiashvili also said that the information was confirmed by the Ambassador of Georgia in Turkmenistan Petre Chkheidze as well.

Several were injured when assassins opened fire at Niyazov's escort on this Monday. The President was not hurt.

However, the next day head of the President's press service Serdar Duriev reported that among 16 arrested suspects, four were Georgians. /// CNA

Turkmen TV continues to report rallies condemning attack on president

Ashgabat, 28 Nov—The attack on President Saparmyrat Nyyazow's motorcade by unidentified persons in the Turkmen capital, Asgabat, on 25 November continues to be in the centre of public attention across the country, state-run Turkmen TV reported in its flagship evening newscast broadcast at 1600 gmt on 28 November. The Altyn asyr channel said that mass meetings and rallies were being held throughout Turkmenistan, all in support of President Nyyazow.

In one of a series of vox-pop interviews with uncaptioned residents and visitors of Asgabat, a woman standing in front of Asgabat State University said: "Those attackers who tried to assassinate our great leader, Saparmyrat Turkmenbasy Nyyazow, are the enemies not only of our leader. They are the enemies of our eternal statehood, and of our proud nation. To our deep sorrow, persons like [former Foreign Minister Boris] Syhmyradow, [former Central Bank Chairman Hudayberdi] Orazow, [former Turkmen Ambassador to Turkey, Nurmuhammet] Hanamow and [former Agricultural Minister Ymamberdi] Yklymow, [all now members of the Turkmen opposition in exile] who lived in this country, who breathed its air and ate its bread, and then betrayed it, still exist and have shown their true faces."

The presenter said that most people demanded severe punishment for the perpetrators of the attack.

The television also showed scenes from a meeting held in Boldumsaz District, northern Turkmenistan, condemning the attack. This area is known as the homeland of Orazow who last year fled the country and joined the opposition in exile. /// Turkmen TV

Interfax: Bouygues to complete over mln worth of construction in Ashgabad in Dec

Ashgabat, 26 Nov—Bouygues of France will complete construction of new parliament and central bank buildings and a school costing over million by December 12 (Turkmenistan's Neutrality Day).

President of Turkmenistan Saparmurad Niyazov made the announcement Monday during a meeting with Aldo Carbonaro, vice president of Bouygues, the main contractor for architectural projects in the Turkmen capital, which have totaled almost $1.5 billion in the past seven years.

Bouygues will in December start constructing National Museum and Vnesheconombank buildings, an exhibition gallery and shopping mall. The contracts for these facilities were signed in July 2002.

The museum building will cost million and should be completed by December 2004. Bouygues plans to build the gallery and shopping mall, each to cost million, by May 2005. /// Interfax

Khatami, Niyazov discuss bilateral, regional issues

Tehran, 30 Nov—President Mohammad Khatami discussed the latest developments in Tehran and Ashkhabad as well as regional issues in a telephone conversation with his Turkmen counterpart Saparmurat Niyazov Friday night, IRNA reported.

President Khatami described the outcomes of the April summit of heads of five littoral states of the Caspian Sea -- namely Iran, Russia, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan -- as well as bilateral cooperation in the fields of transportation and energy as "positive".

He called for further expansion of bilateral and regional cooperation between the two neighboring countries.

Niyazov, for his part, pointed to the two countries' similar stances on the issues related to the Caspian Sea and promotion of economic relations and stressed the need to bolster mutual and regional ties.

The two-day summit of the Caspian Sea littoral states was held in the Turkmen capital of Ashkhabad last April to discuss how to share the inland sea and it wound up with no resolution. The presidents of the five Caspian states, however, described the summit as successful.

President Khatami described the summit on the Caspian Sea "an important event" as he called on the littoral countries to shut the region to outsiders.

"One of the important issues raised up in the summit was that the Caspian Sea belongs to the five coastal countries and that nobody should interfere in the region," Khatami said.

Iran has repeatedly made it known that it considers any unilateral deals for energy exploration in the Caspian Sea as null and void before the issue of legal regime of the Caspian Sea is settled. /// IRNA

ITAR-TASS reports: Ashgabat, 29 Nov— [Turkmen President] Saparmyrat Nyyazow and [Iranian President] Mohammad Khatami have called for speeding up the settlement of the Caspian Sea's legal status. The presidents exchanged their views on this topic during a telephone conversation today.

Turkmen State News Service reported: "The presidents agreed to visit each other's countries and the first visit will take place in early 2003. The dates and details of the visits will be specified during Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi's visit to Turkmenistan in the near future."

The presidents also discussed the current state of and the prospects for developing bilateral relations, specifically in the power engineering and transport sectors. Iran is buying Turkmen gas supplied via the specially built 200-m. Turkmen-Iranian gas pipeline Korpeje [Korpedzhe] - Kurtkoy. The Balkanabat-Aliabad power transmitting line, which will be used to provide northern Iranian provinces with electricity and also to re-export it to Turkey, is nearly ready. The Tejen-Serakhs railway link, put into operation in 1996 and actively used by CIS goods consignors as an interim corridor to the ports of South-East Asia, is also of great importance in the two countries' economic partnership.

Discussing the urgent issues of regional cooperation, as stressed in the official information, Khatami backed Nyyazow's initiative to set up a regional consultative council at president level. /// ITAR-TASS
Another report by IRNA: Tehran, 1 Dec—Iranian President Mohammad Khatami in a phone conversation with his Turkmen counterpart r Saparmyrat Nyyazow late on Friday [29 November] condemned a recent assassination attempt on his life, a Persian daily Afarinesh reported here on Sunday.

Expressing pleasure over the failure of the attempt, Khatami stressed that the Islamic Republic strongly denounces any kind of terrorism.

He also referred to terrorism as an inhumane approach being utilized against humanity.

President Khatami hoped success for his counterpart and prosperity for the Turkmen people, adding that the elements behind the failed attempt should be identified and punished. Masked gunmen opened fire on Nyyazow's motorcade in Asgabat on Monday, but the Turkmen president was not riding in his car.

During the conversation, the two sides explored prospect of mutual relations and underscored the necessity for expansion of bilateral relations especially in energy and transportation sectors.

Khatami also voiced interest in Nyyazow's proposal for establishment of a regional consultative council at presidential level in Central Asia.

The both sides also conferred on regional and international developments, as well as Caspian Sea affairs, and felicitated each other on the forthcoming Id al-Fitr.

The sighting of the new moon at the end of Ramadan heralds the celebration of Id al-Fitr (breaking the fast).

Meanwhile, Khatami described the outcomes of the April summit of heads of five littoral states of the Caspian Sea - namely Iran, Russia, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan - as well as bilateral cooperation in the fields of transportation and energy as "positive".

Nyyazow, for his part, pointed to the two countries' similar stances on the issues related to the Caspian Sea and promotion of economic relations and stressed the need to bolster mutual and regional ties.

The two-day summit of the Caspian Sea littoral states was held in the Turkmen capital of Asgabat last April to discuss how to share the inland sea, but wound up with no resolution.

During the upcoming trip of Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi to Turkmenistan, the two states will discuss and determine certain date for future visit between the two presidents. /// IRNA

Turkmen, Russian leaders discuss cooperation in fight against terrorism

Ashgabat, 30 Nov—A telephone conversation took place on 30 November between the president of Turkmenistan, Saparmyrat Nyyazow, and the Russian president, Vladimir Putin. The Russian president expressed his sympathy with and support for Saparmyrat [Nyyazow] Turkmenbasy over the recent assassination attempt on his life which has met with strong indignation in Russia.

The Russian president stressed the fundamental position of his country of intolerance of any forms of terrorism, and resolutely condemned the terrorist act.

The leaders of the two countries agreed on further cooperation in the fight against terrorism, a constant information exchange and coordination of efforts in this direction. The Turkmen president stressed that a group of perpetrators of the terrorist act: [Boris] Syhmyradow [ex-foreign minister], [Hudayberdi] Orazow [former Central Bank chairman], [Muhammet] Hanamow [ex-ambassador to Turkey], are in Russia, and asked for them to be extradited to Turkmenistan, because an investigation has established the irrefutable connection of those people to the recent terrorist act. Vladimir Putin told Saparmyrat Turkmenbasy that he has ordered the prosecutor-general of Russia, [Vladimir] Ustinov, to take efforts in investigating, detaining and deporting the criminals involved in the assassination attempt to Turkmenistan.

The Turkmen president thanked the president of Russia for his assistance in the issue and stated in turn that the Russian nationals detained in Turkmenistan in connection with the recent terrorist act will be extradited to the Russian law-enforcement agencies.

[Passage to end omitted: The presidents discussed cooperation between the two countries] /// Turkmen Foreign Ministry press release

AP reports: Turkmenistan's president appealed directly to Russian President Vladimir Putin to hand over three of the Turkmen opposition figures accused of conspiring to assassinate this Central Asian leader, Turkmen television reported Saturday.

President Saparmurat Niyazov made the request during a telephone conversation with Putin, naming three exiled opposition leaders who are reportedly living in Russia. Turkmen television did not give Putin's response.

Niyazov's car came under fire from several vehicles and buildings Monday when he was driving to work in the capital Ashgabat. The president was unharmed, but several people were injured including a military police officer who tried to stop the truck but was run over.

The government has accused former First Deputy Agriculture Minister Saparmurat Yklymov of masterminding the attack, and alleged that former Foreign Minister Boris Shikhmuradov, former Central Bank chief Khudaiberdi Orazov and former ambassador to Turkey Nurmukhammed Khanamov were all involved.

The four exiled opposition members already face charges at home for allegedly embezzling state property. Turkmen television reported that Niyazov asked Putin to extradite Shikhmuradov, Orazov and Khanamov. It was not immediately clear where Yklymov is living.

Turkmens loyal to Niyazov have called for the death penalty to be reinstated and applied to anyone convicted in connection with the assassination attempt. Turkmenistan has banned capital punishment since 1999.

Niyazov has ruled Turkmenistan since 1985, when it was still part of the Soviet Union. An authoritarian leader at the center of a cult of personality, he has resisted moves toward democracy and economic reforms and cracked down on dissent. /// AP

Russians say no extradition requests post-Turkmen assassination attempt

Ashgabat, 1 Dec—Russian federal law-enforcement agencies have not received any requests or appeals from Turkmenistan which would be related to a recent assassination attempt on Turkmen President Saparmyrat Nyyazow in Ashgabat, a source with the Russian Prosecutor-General's Office has told Interfax.

"Requests related to investigations into incidents of this kind must comply with strictly determined procedures of consideration. Any decisions beyond these procedures are absolutely ruled out," the source emphasized.

The Turkmen presidential international information department earlier issued a press release saying that "Russian citizens, whom Turkmen special services detained on suspicion of involvement in the 25 November assassination attempt on President Saparmyrat Nyyazow, will be extradited to Russian law-enforcement authorities".

"Three people among those whom Turkmenistan has officially declared as the organizers of the attack are currently on Russian territory; the investigation has irrefutably established their involvement in the recent act of terrorism," the document reads.

"The presidential secretariat has received information that the Russian Prosecutor-General's Office will take steps on searching for, detaining and deporting the criminals responsible for the assassination attempt to Turkmenistan," the press release says. /// Interfax

Turkmen president plotted attack, says suspected organizer

MOSCOW, 30 Nov—A suspected organizer of the recent attack on Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov has stated that the act was plotted by Niyazov himself.

Former Prime Minister and former Central Bank Chairman Khudaiberdy Orazov denied allegations that he helped organize the attack.

"I learned about it via the radio and the Internet. It was acting," Orazov told the Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper in an interview published on Saturday.

Niyazov resorted to the act "to dispose of the opposition currently based abroad. He expects help in detention of the opponents and their extradition," he said.

"At least an hour before [Niyazov] travels, soldiers and Security Ministry servicemen line up along the highway. If an unknown vehicle appears 200-300 meters ahead, it is being monitored," he said.

“Everybody in Turkmenistan knows that Niyazov's cars are invincible. Even a grenade thrower cannot destroy them," he said.

On November 25, a Kamaz truck blocked the road while Niyazov's motorcade was proceeding from a country residence to the city. Gunmen fired assault rifles from the truck. Several people including a traffic police officer were wounded. Niyazov remained unhurt.

"The act of international terrorism was aimed at undermining Turkmenistan's constitutional norms and destabilizing the situation in the republic," Turkmen leadership announced. About a hundred suspects were arrested. Rallies were held in support of Niyazov and speakers called for executing "the scoundrels who took the path of shaitan." Death penalty is outlawed in Turkmenistan.

Former Deputy Prime Minister and former Foreign Minister Boris Shikhmuradov, former Ambassador to Turkey Nurmukhammed Khanamov, former First Deputy Agriculture Minister Saparmurat Yklymov and Orazov are suspected of organizing the attack.

Ashgabat asked the Russian Prosecutor General's Office to help locate the suspects. /// Interfax

Egyptian envoy presents credentials to Turkmen president

Ashgabat, 29 Nov—Egypt's new ambassador to Turkmenistan, Ra'uf Sa'd, presented his credentials to Turkmen President Saparmyrat Nyyazow today, Turkmen Press news agency reported on 29 November.

"Today the newly-appointed ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary of Egypt, Ra'uf Sa'd, presented his credentials to Turkmen President Saparmyrat Nyyazow," the report said.

The agency also reported that the Egyptian envoy thanked the Turkmen president for receiving the documents on behalf of the president of Egypt, Husni Mubarak, and himself, and presented a message of sympathy over the terrorist act [assassination attempt against Nyyazow] which took place on 25 November in the Turkmen capital.

Ra'uf Sa'd is the Egyptian ambassador resident in Russia. He also serves now as a non-resident ambassador to Turkmenistan. /// Turkmen Press news agency

US State Department comments on Assassination Attempt

Ashgabat, 29 Nov—We have seen reports of the apparent attempt on Monday, November 25 on the life of Turkmenistan President Saparmurat Niyazov. We strongly deplore this kind of violence and are relieved that President Niyazov was unhurt.

We have no comment on speculation about the perpetrators. We expect the Government of Turkmenistan authorities to conduct a full, fair, and transparent investigation into Monday’s incident. /// Press Release by US Embassy at Ashgabat

Turkmenistan frees 34 jailed Iranians in goodwill gesture

Ashgabat, 1 Dec—The Turkmen government on Saturday [30 November] released 34 Iranians imprisoned mainly for smuggling illicit drugs, Iranian Ambassador to Asgabat Ebrahim Derazgisu has said.

Derazgisu, speaking to IRNA, added that Iranian prisoners were delivered to Iran's police located at Bajgiran border point in East Azarbayjan Province.

He pointed to the continued decrease in the number of Iranians detained in Turkmenistan, adding that the drugs trafficking was among the main crimes committed by and charges of Iranians in that country.

The Turkmen government every year pardons many prisoners on the occasion of Id al-Fitr.

The sighting of the new moon at the end of the fasting month of Ramadan heralds the celebration of Id al-Fitr. /// IRNA

Turkmenistan to extradite Russians detained under Niyazov attempt case to Moscow

ASHGABAT. 1 Dec—Russian citizens, whom Turkmen special services detained on suspicion of involvement in the November 25 assassination attempt on President Saparmurad Niyazov, will be extradited to Russian law enforcement authorities.

The Turkmen presidential international information department made this announcement in a press release circulated on Saturday night.

"Three people among those whom Turkmenistan has officially declared as the organizers of the attack are currently in Russian territory; the investigation has irrefutably established their involvement in the recent act of terrorism," the document reads.

"The presidential secretariat has received information that the Russian Prosecutor General's Office will take steps on searching for, detaining, and deporting the criminals responsible for the assassination attempt to Turkmenistan," the press release says.

The Turkmen presidential motorcade came under fire when President Niyazov was en route from his suburban residence to work in downtown Ashgabat at 7 a.m. on November 25.

Near the stadium on Turkmenbashi Avenue, which is located in the MIR neighborhood, a Kamaz truck emerged from a lane and cut off a Mercedes driven by Niyazov himself from three escort security cars, which were then immediately fired upon from several automobiles parked nearby and from high rises surrounding the scene. Several members of the security escort and a number of attackers were wounded in the shootout.

Sixteen people said to be directly involved in the assassination attempt or its organization were detained on November 26. At the present time, the number of people detained under this case has significantly risen, although no official statements have yet been made on this account.

The interrogation of the attackers revealed that the organizer of the attack on the presidential motorcade was former first Turkmen deputy agriculture minister Saparmurat Aklymov, who is currently residing abroad. According to official reports, the detainees said Aklymov had hired them and provided vehicles and weapons. The reports also labeled former Turkmen deputy prime minister and foreign minister Boris Shikhmuradov, former chairman of the Turkmen Central Bank and deputy prime minister Khudaiberdy Orazov, and former Turkmen ambassador to Turkey Nurmukhammed Khanamov as financial and ideological inspirers of the assassination attempt. /// Interfax

Turkmen ruler targeted by his own secret services: expert

MOSCOW, 28 Nov—The failed assassination bid against Turkmenistan's authoritarian leader Saparmurat Niyazov could have been staged by his own secret services, a Russian hu-man rights campaigner said on Thursday.

Early this year, Niyazov foiled a coup plot by the secret services and purged them, sentencing his once powerful security chief Mukhamad Nazarov to 20 years in jail in June, said Vitaly Ponomarev from the Moscow-based Memorial human rights body.

The new head of country's national security committee was then fired in September, while many long-serving officers who made their careers in the Soviet-era KGB have been replaced, Ponomarev added.

"Niyazov did not need to mount a fake murder bid to unleash a fresh purge, but the secret service men were terribly afraid of one," the expert told AFP.

The eccentric leader of Turkmenistan, a largely desert but gas-rich Central Asian nation that borders Iran and Afghanistan to the south, has repeatedly cracked down on corrupt officials. "But from 2000, repression started to affect officials whose faults were fabricated. The privileged elite began to take fright," said Ponomarev.

The human rights activist cited an anonymous report on the Turkmen opposition website, saying that Niyazov was in a panic as he arrived at the presidency after the attack and "ordered a general alert."

The president has accused exiled opposition leaders of organising the shooting attack on his motorcade in the capital Askhabad Monday. Several dozen of their relatives in Turkmenistan have since been detained.

Former deputy agriculture minister, Sapar Yklymov, whom Niyazov has labeled as the organizer of the assassination attempt, said that 120 members of his family had been arrested, including his daughter.

Speaking to AFP by telephone from Sweden, where he lives in exile, Yklymov said he would try to use international law to get his family released.

"We are in discussions with lawyers to launch international legal action," he said.

Former foreign minister Boris Shikhmuradov, also branded as one of the ring-leaders, appealed to the Organisation for Cooperation and Security in Europe to "prevent arrests and mass repressions of innocent people in Turkmenistan, following false accusations by Niyazov's regime," in a statement on the opposition website.

Known as Turkmenbashi or Father of all Turkmen, Niyazov has ruled the Central Asian republic since 1985 when he was named Communist Party chief, holding onto power after independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.

He has built a Stalin-style personality cult and amassed almost absolute power, in 1999 declaring himself president-for-life. /// AFP via Dawn Karachi, 29 Nov

Russian language teaching under threat in Turkmenistan

Moscow, 29 Nov—The Turkmen authorities have launched a concerted campaign to restrict teaching of the Russian language in the republic, according to the Russian newspaper Rossiyskaya Gazeta. In an article published on 29 November, the paper said the campaign was being carried out on the orders of President Saparmyrat Nyyazow, and was designed ultimately to force ethnic Russians out of the country. The following is the text of the article:

In Turkmenistan little happens spontaneously and each new campaign almost certainly starts at the behest of official Asgabat. This also certainly goes for the next phase of the assault on the Russian language that began in October (when the academic year was in full swing!)

Russian language classes are being closed on the pretext of alleged "insufficient numbers" (under current Turkmen regulations, a class must number no less than 30 persons). But in practice, local officials are not satisfied with this, demanding that classes taught in Russian should contain a minimum of 45 persons, including 30 ethnic Russians.

The closure of Russian language classes began in the regions where the native Russian population is small. But many groups of Russian speakers of other nationalities - Uzbeks, Armenians, Azerbaijanis, Tatars, Ossetians and so on - live there, who would like to give their children a school education in the Russian language. In October, Russian language classes were closed in the settlement of Garrygala, then in the city of Baherden. In the largest city in the country's northeast, Dasoguz, there are only four such classes left. A similar situation is developing in the city of Mary.

No-one, of course, asks the views of the Russian-speaking population itself, and complaints go unanswered. For example, just in the months of October and November, residents of the settlement of Garrygala sent in excess of 30 appeals to various authorities to keep education in the Russian language (i.e. various levels of court, the prosecutor's office, the Turkmen Education Ministry, the Russian embassy and the OSCE office in Asgabat). All appeals to the local authorities turned out to be in vain though there was a formal written response from the Prosecutor-General's Office. There was but one "response": Those behind the appeals were summoned for a stern "chat" with the state security organs. And as regards ethnic Turkmens, the tactic of persuasion and appealing to their ethnic consciousness is employed.

It is not actually hard to see what the authorities' action plan is (a high-ranking government source said that the Turkmenbasy [President Saparmyrat Nyyazow] gave a direct order to accelerate the process of reducing the Russian language's educational space) - to first "force" the Russian language out of Turkmenistan, followed by its speakers. /// Rossiyskaya Gazeta, Moscow

Uzbek leader urges Turkmen president to cooperate in fight against terrorism

Ashgabat, 29 Nov—To His Excellency, the president of Turkmenistan, Saparmyrat Atayewic Nyyazow.

Esteemed Mr Saparmyrat Atayewic, The report on a terrorist act - the attempt on your life - has caused strong indignation and anxiety in Uzbekistan. Uzbekistan has always condemned terrorism in all its manifestations and forms, and is ready for all-round cooperation in the fight against that evil.

Esteemed Saparmyrat Atayewic, please accept our sincere wishes to you for health and success in your work, and for peace and prosperity to the Turkmen nation. Islam Karimov, President of Uzbekistan. /// Neytralnyy Turkmenistan, Ashgabat

Turkmen former oil and gas minister sent as ambassador to UAE

Ashgabat, 28 Nov—Decree by the president [Saparmyrat Nyyazow] of Turkmenistan on [Gurbannazar] Nazarow [former Turkmen oil and gas minister].

Gurbannazar Nazarow is to be appointed ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary of Turkmenistan to the United Arab Emirates (Abu Dhabi).

[Signed by] The president of Turkmenistan, Saparmyrat Turkmenbasy [Nyyazow].

Decree by the president of Turkmenistan on promoting Nazarow to the rank of ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary. Gurbannazar Nazarow is to be promoted to the rank of ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary.

The president of Turkmenistan, Saparmyrat Turkmenbasy. /// Turkmen Radio

Thousands attend sacrifice ceremony in Turkmen president's home village

Ashgabat, 28 Nov—Hundreds of people in Turkmenistan today joined meetings in support of the Turkmenbasy, national President Saparmyrat Nyyazow, who survived an assassination attempt Monday [25 November].

Newspapers, radio and television here reported the rancorous statements that the Turkmen made against the perpetrators and executors of the shelling of the presidential cortege on Monday morning. People on the streets wished their president many long years of life and new achievements in governing the country.

The staff of Turkmenistan's Foreign Ministry sent a letter to the Great Saparmyrat Nyyazow, the Benefactor of all the Turkmen, the Diamond Crown, and the President for Life.

"The attempt against your invaluable life inflicted a wound on all the people of Turkmenistan," said the diplomats. "The nation, united in a concerted motion, gives you support and assurances that it will always walk the same path with you."

To mark President Nyyazow's successful escape from the assassins, the ritual of offering a sacrifice - agyzachar-sadaka - was organized in line with requirements of the holy month of Ramadan in his native village after sunset.

The common prayer drew thousands of people from across the land. Turkmen television said the sadaka had been offered in the name of Saparmyrat Turkmenbasy, the guarantor of stability, peace, happiness, and the flourishing of the people of independent Turkmenistan. /// ITAR-TASS

Sezer sends a message to Turkmenbashy

Ankara, 28 Nov—President Ahmet Necdet Sezer sent his best wishes to Turkmenistan President Saparmurat Turkmenbasi and voiced his relief that the head of state was safe after an assassination attempt. In his message, Sezer condemned terrorism and supported any cooperation to stop national or international terrorist attacks. Ninth president Suleyman Demirel called Turkmenbasi on Tuesday with his best wishes. Afghan President Hamid Karzai, Georgian President Edvard Sevardnadze and Ukranian President Leonid Kucma also sent messages to Turkmanbasi. /// Turkish Daily News

Palestinian leader condemns "terrorist" act in Turkmen capital

Ashgabat, 28 Nov—To his Excellency Mr Saparmyrat Nyyazow, the president of Turkmenistan:

Your excellency, I have great satisfaction in expressing, on behalf of the Palestinian people, their leadership, and on my own behalf, to your excellency, and to the Turkmen government and also to the fraternal Turkmen people, our deep happiness that this dirty criminal act of an assassination attempt on your life was not succesful.

The bad news of the attack was completely unexpected for us and we asked God Almighty to extend his protection upon you. We severely condemn this criminal act aimed at disturbing the security and stability in fraternal Turkmenistan.

Taking advantage of the occasion, we express our gratitude to your excellency for your efforts in establishing and strengthening relations of fraternity and solidarity between our countries and peoples. We are making constant efforts to strengthen and develop these relations because this serves our common interests.

Your excellency, let me convey to you once more our congratulations and our wishes for sound health and happiness to you and for progress and prosperity to the people of the fraternal country.

Yasir Arafat, the president of the State of Palestine, the chairman of the Executive Council of the Palestinian Liberation Organization and the head of the Palestinian National Authority. /// Turkmen Radio

Turkmen ruling party chief says foreigners behind assassination attempt

Ashgabat, 27 Nov—Those who attacked President Saparmyrat Nyyazow's motorcade in the Turkmen capital, Asgabat, on 25 November, were all foreigners, according to a statement made by the head of Turkmenistan's ruling Democratic Party, Onjyk Musayew.

In his remarks at a mass rally organized in Asgabat on the next day, Musayew said: "They were foreign nationals, a company, hired and paid by Syhmyradow [Turkmen ex-foreign minister, currently a leader of the opposition in exile] and they came here as part of a conspiracy and here they were joined by the Yklymows [family of former minister of agriculture in exile] and Jumayews [family of prominent Asgabat businessman]. These [perpetrators] are all foreign nationals, Georgians, Armenians, and Russians. These villains came here, to our country illegally, to do dirty deeds."

The participants of the meeting supported a proposal made by Musayew to bring the opposition leaders back to the country and try them as the organizers and inspirers of the alleged attempt to assassinate President Nyyazow.

The participants of the meeting, a report on which was carried by Turkmenistan's state-run Altyn Asyr TV channel, also adopted an address to President Nyyazow expressing their full support for his policy. /// Turkmen TV

Turkmen government declares assassination bid ‘attempted coup d’etat’

Ashgabat, 2 Dec—Serdar Durdiev, spokesman of President Niyazov, addressed a press conference in the foreign office. Here is complete transcript of his briefing:

President of Turkmenistan called a meeting of cabinet of ministers today. Protection of environment was discussed during today because soon there will be some programmes on state level on this issue. Water share for Ashgabat and surrounding areas was also discussed in the meeting. The questions concerning textile industry and currency regulation were also dealt with. It will be in the papers tomorrow.

Prosecutor General submitted a report about the plot against the government. Twenty-three persons have been arrested so far. Thirty-seven pieces of small arms were recovered from them. These include Klashnikov, pistols and carbines. Also recovered were communication equipment, camouflage uniforms and masks.

Today we can say that it was an attempted coup d’etat against the constitutional government of Turkmenistan. As a matter of fact it was an attempt to overthrow the government through violent means.

Leaders of this plot were Sheikhmuradov, Hanamov, Orazov and Yklymov. The plot was conceived by Sheikhmuradov. He himself was involved in getting the criminals into the country and arranging arms for them. Within the boundaries of Turkmenistan the plot was led by Gowunch Jumayev who issued orders to the criminals.

During the investigation the picture became clear. Kamaz separated the presidential motorcade [into two parts] and the fire was opened from three sides. Some persons were injured. I will tell you how it was planned and executed.

The plot was conceived well in advance. The criminals began arriving Turkmenistan from May 2002. Sheikhmuradov arranged to send these persons and he also arranged passports and visas for them. They were from different countries. They legalized themselves here and were hired as employees by the firms of Jumayev and Yklymov. Then they awaited further orders. They were promised monetary rewards for their services and the individual sums promised to them were in four figures [presumably in US dollars].

The night before the attempted coup they gathered at the dacha of Jumayev at Chuganly. On the day of the attempted coup they began moving to the designated spot at 5 AM and the arms were concealed in Kamaz. After 7 AM the incident took place but they failed in their attempt. They were in touch with each other through wireless communication equipment.

The aim was to cease power in Turkmenistan. It was already decided as to who will be in what position in the new government; portfolios had been allocated already.

Some of the criminals were arrested immediately after the incident. The others were caught after some hours or days. Caches of arms and ammunition were discovered; for instance at the house belonging to Yklymov, at the graveyard on Garashsyzlyk. Carbines, camouflage uniforms and masks were among the items discovered.

Mafiosi clans of Jumayev and Yklymov were active locally in this plot. Financiers, organizers and plotters have been identified. Sheikhmuradov, Hanamov, Orazov and others were among them who plotted this act of terrorism.
Legally speaking, plotters and organizers also bear the blame along with those who carry it out.

Some of those who are under arrest came from abroad. Please don’t add your own comments to what I am saying. Foreigners who came from abroad and who have several nationalities were from different countries. To which country each of them actually belongs, we are trying to figure out. Some of them were arrested with forged passports and they themselves are saying something different from what their documents indicate. Once it is clear as to which countries they belong to, we will release this information.

As you know, our president spoke to President Putin on the phone. It was decided that if there were any Russian citizens are among those who have been apprehended, they would be handed over to Russia.

Tomorrow at 9 PM Turkmen TV will show a long interview of Prosecutor General. Please don’t miss it as there will be lot of facts and figures in her interview.

Among them who have been arrested there are more than half foreigners. Up to now no one of them has been proved to be Russian citizen.

Gowunch Jumayev was actually at the spot [of the incident] commanding these people and some members of his family also participated in this plot including his son Timur. /// nCa

One passage from report by Turkmen TV: The Cabinet of Ministers of Turkmenistan held a meeting today. It was chaired by Turkmen President Saparmyrat Nyyazow. Its agenda included various important issues presented for consideration. The meeting was broadcast by Turkmen TV first channel.

Speaking about an attempt on his own life on 25 November, Nyyazow mentioned those he thought were behind the attack and the president blamed foreign countries for being responsible for some protests in Asgabat and said that they follow their own national interests.

"Five hundred young men gathered in a park, they drank, ate, they [word indistinct] a trolleybus on Magtymguly Street; why do they do that? Would these children think of this themselves? No. And those children who came to [the protest in front of] the theatre. No. Who is behind this? Our scoundrels are. Why do they need it? They were also given [word indistinct] by another country, they are told to talk about democracy. They try to challenge us, and if we fight them, they say human rights are being violated. They all have political purposes, national purposes," the president said.

The report did not show the prosecutor-general of Turkmenistan, Gurbanbibi Atajanowa speaking at the meeting. ITAR-TASS reported at 1240 gmt the same day that Atajanowa was heard speaking at the meeting of the Cabinet of Ministers of Turkmenistan about the investigation into the attempt on the president's life. /// Turkmen TV

ITAR-TASS reports: The attempted armed coup in Turkmenistan on 25 November was aimed at a violent seizure of power and an overthrow of the constitutional system, thinks the country's prosecutor-general.

Such an evaluation of the terrorist act in the centre of [the Turkmen capital] Asgabat, when part of the presidential motorcade was fired on by the plotters, was heard today at the meeting of the Cabinet of Ministers of Turkmenistan. The journalists were informed about the matter at a special briefing by the head of the Department of International News at the Turkmen president's office, Serdar Durdyyew.

The prosecutor-general, Gurbanbibi Atajanowa, also made a speech on the process of the investigation into the attempt on the president's life. She said that 23 people had been detained so far, more than half of whom are foreigners whose nationalities are being ascertained, Durdyyew said.

[passage omitted, further details on preparations made for the attempted assassination] /// ITAR-TASS

AP reports: A prominent Turkmen businessman has been charged with organizing an assassination attempt against President Saparmurat Niyazov, officials said Monday.

Guvanch Dzhumayev stands accused of organizing what Turkmen officials have labeled an attempted coup, Niyazov spokesman Serdar Durdyev said.

Niyazov's car came under fire from several vehicles and buildings last week when he was driving to work in the capital Ashgabat. The president was unharmed, but several people were injured, including a military police officer who tried to stop the truck but was run over.

The government accuses four exiled former government officials of masterminding the attack. The four already face charges at home for allegedly embezzling state property.

Three of them are believed to be living in Russia former Foreign Minister Boris Shikhmuradov, ex-Central Bank chief Khudaiberdi Orazov and former ambassador to Turkey Nurmukhammed Khanamov

Officials have not said where they believe the fourth man, former First Deputy Agriculture Minister Saparmurat Yklymov, is living. However, on the day of the attack, Niyazov said he had asked Turkey, as well as Russia, to extradite the four alleged conspirators.

Dzhumayev was the main organizer of the attack within Turkmenistan, the presidential spokesman said.

Dzhumayev is known as an importer of pharmaceuticals and other products. According to the Moscow Helsinki Group, a respected Russian human rights organization, Dzhumayev published an independent newspaper in the early 1990s that was shut down by Turkmen authorities for its critical reporting.

A total of 23 people had been arrested for attempting to stage a coup, the spokesman Durdyev said. He said 37 guns, including automatic rifles, radios and other items had been confiscated from the suspects.

"The assassination was planned over the course of several months," he said. "Their plan envisioned seizing power in the country."

Niyazov has led Turkmenistan since 1985, when it was still a part of the Soviet Union. He has resisted moves toward democracy and economic reforms and cracked down on dissent, forcing many opposition figures into exile. A personality cult has grown up around Niyazov, with his portrait adorning the national currency and most public buildings. /// AP

More details from Turkmen TV report: President Niyazov chaired a session of cabinet of ministers. Here are excerpts from Niyazov’s speech during the session:

We shall consider the events of 25 November in Ashgabat. High organs are investigating the incident thoroughly. Detailed report will be telecast by Turkmen TV tomorrow.

Findings must be clear. Who were the persons involved in this, whether they were locals or foreigners, how long was this thing in planning, who provided arms and ammunition? What would have happened in the country had they succeeded in their plans? There is no [desire for] democracy behind all this. Law enforcement agencies should keep reporting their progress on weekly basis.

[President Niyazov signed a decree for nature protection. He also signed another decree for provision of water to Ashgabat till 2030. according to the decree, water for human consumption in Ashgabat should be provided from mountain springs/streams. Further decrees signed during the session included construction of a textile mills in Wekilbazar at the cost of US $ 53 million and setting up of a silk factory with annual capacity of 5000 tons.]

[In order to tighten foreign currency transactions, Niyazov signed a decree to limit the authorized signatories for dealing with foreign banks at state level to President of Turkmenistan and head of central bank only. More details on decrees about banking and railways can be found in the papers.]

Gurbanbibi (Prosecutor General): They had contacted people in many parts of the country. They were planning to set up a supreme council [presumably on conclusion of a successful coup]. Sheikhmuradov, Orazov, Hanamov and Yklymov would have been members of the council. Investigations will clear these points further. We have arrested 23 persons so far and more arrests are expected. They promised US $ 50000 to each hired criminal in case of success of [attempt to cease power] and US $ 25000 each in case of failure.

Niyazov: Sheikhmuradov has been like a snake for us. In 1991 I visited India. Babayev [former head of academy of sciences] and Durdiev [then secretary of the party] recommended Abdy Kuliev for appointment as foreign minister as he had a lot of experience in this field. I trusted him to this job. In India Kuliev introduced me to Sheikhmuradov as an experienced person in this field. His father Oraz Sheikhmuradov was a KGB operative who was a known criminal. Or people should know that Oraz Sheikhmuradov killed some persons by shooting in their back. They were two [killers] and one of them was Oraz. He continued his criminal activities [in KGB] for 9 years until he was exposed in 1939. In later period some people helped him. In Batyrov became party secretary and helped him in getting new job.

Kuliev recommended Sheikhmuradov and both of them worked here. Kuliev was related to Sheikhmuradov and I didn’t know about that. Boris [Sheikhmuradov] was involved in illegal sale of military aircraft and other hardware.

Orazov was a good specialist but later he changed because money spoils some people.

Yklymov and Jumayev are also big criminals.

Border services should work better because guns are being smuggled into the country through public transport.

Custom service is doing better under Grishin. I am getting weekly reports. Security service and border service will have to do better.

Now there will be new regulations for visa. Register the foreigners who are entering and leaving the country. Foreign office and other organs will jointly have to oversee this. New regulations should cater for a number of questions such as time of arrival and departure, purpose of visit, who receives them and what are they doing here.

[Alluding to a demonstration in Ashgabat in 1995 near the US embassy, Niyazov speculated that some foreign powers may have been involved in this incident also.]

Sheikhmuradov was a KGB agent. When he was a student in Moscow his nickname was ‘Provocateur’. As ambassador to China he was involved in sale of Ukrainian arms to Pakistan. I got a special letter from Ukraine about this. I asked him to return to Ashgabat but Nazarov [former head of KNB] informed him that he will be arrested if he returns to Ashgabat. Nazarov did the same thing with Hanamov also. I asked him to call Hanamov urgently back to the country as his involvement was indicated in some crimes but Nazarov waited on the pretext that things will improve. Hanamov’s crimes are such that he can be imprisoned for 25 years 5 times over. His father was an influential person but I didn’t fall under his influence. /// Turkmen TV

Turkmenistan Not Asking Moscow for Information on Assassination Attempt

Internet, 1 Dec—The Russian Prosecutor General's office said it has not received any requests or appeals from Turkmenistan concerning a recent assassination attempt against Turkmen President Saparmurad Niyazov.

Earlier reports said that Turkmen President Niyazov asked Moscow to hand over three opposition figures whom he blames for the attempt on his life. Turkmenistan says the three are in Russia.

Mr. Niyazov, who was targeted in a shooting on his motorcade in the capital Ashkhabad Monday, survived the assassination attempt. The Turkmen leader has blamed political opponents of being behind the attempt on his life. /// VoA

Tracer, Canneft pursue Turkmen concession

Internet, 2 Dec—Tracer Petroleum and Canneft continue discussions with the government of Turkmenistan and its prospective partners for rights to explore the Adzhiyap concession. Tracer will scheduled to attend further meetings as well as the Turkmenistan Oil and Gas Conference in mid-December. Tracer officials said the company is pleased with the ongoing relations between itself, Canneft and the prospective joint venture partners, and believes a concerted effort continues toward completing a production sharing contract. /// Oil Online

Turkmenistan hands over seven prisoners to Afghanistan under Eid al-Fitr amnesty

Balkh, 1 Dec—The president of the Transitional Islamic State of Afghanistan, Hamed Karzai, has had a telephone call with Saparmyrat Turkmenbasy [Nyyazow], the president of Republic of Turkmenistan, about the delivery [to Afghanistan] on the occasion of the holy days of Eid al-Fitr of seven Afghan prisoners who were arrested on various grounds.

The prisoners were handed over to Afghan officials via the Aqina border [northwestern Fariab Province] last night. The following were present during the delivery of the seven prisoners: Gen Ebadullah, the commander of national security of Jowzjan [Province]; Ayub Sabiri, the official in charge of protocol of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Jowzjan; Kabauf, the consul of Turkmenistan in Mazar, and the consul of the Transitional Islamic State of Afghanistan in Mary [southern Turkmenistan].

Then, the Afghan officials thanked the people and the president of Turkmenistan for their help in different situations. Then, the officials of Turkmenistan spoke of the relations between the two countries and wished that these relations would continue forever.

Finally, the document on the delivery of the seven prisoners was handed over to the Afghan officials, and those who were delivered were taken to their destination. /// Balkh TV, Mazar-e Sharif

Armenian nationals leave Turkmenistan for home with Norwegian help

Ashgabat, 2 Dec—A total of 114 Armenian nationals, including 37 children, left for their fatherland last week with the assistance of the International Organization for Migration [the IOM], governmental organizations of Turkmenistan and the Armenian embassy in [the Turkmen capital] Asgabat.

The return of the involuntary immigrants to Armenia has become possible thanks to the sponsorship of the Norwegian government, which has allocated 57,000 dollars for the purpose, it was noted at a news conference held at the Asgabat branch of the IOM on the same day as the act of voluntary repatriation. The IOM representative particularly noted that Turkmenistan had taken an understanding view of the voluntary return of the migrants. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, border and customs services of Turkmenistan have provided every possible assistance in the repatriation of the Armenian nationals. It was also noted that the Armenian government and the IOM branch in Armenia will provide further patronage for the migrants on their arrival in Armenia. /// Turkmen State News Service

Northern Afghan commander thanks Turkmen consul for release of prisoners

Balkh, 1 Dec—Gen [Abdorrashid] Dostum, the operational commander of the northern zone and the special envoy of the president of the Transitional Islamic State of Afghanistan [Hamed Karzai], visited (?Boy Kabauf), the consul of Turkmenistan in Mazar, and (?Bashiry Sharif), the vice-consul in Mazar, in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Mazar and thanked them for delivering the seven prisoners [released by the Turkmen president under the Eid al-Fitr amnesty] and for providing electricity.

Fayzollah Zaki, the supervisor of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Mazar, and Atiqollah Begzada, the official in charge of consular affairs of this ministry in Mazar, took part in this meeting and expressed their sorrow over the deliberate attack on the president of the Republic of Turkmenistan [Saparmyrat Nyyazow], as follows:

Dear esteemed brother, Saparmyrat Nyyazow Turkmenbasy, president of the Republic of Turkmenistan

We heard about the deliberate attack on you. However, we condemned this criminal terrorist action. We are happy that you were not hurt and that you came out of this terrorist act alive and we wish you a long life and success. /// Balkh TV, Mazar-e Sharif

Turkmen president's amnesty to free some 8,000 convicts

Ashgabat, 1 Dec—About 8,000 former convicts in Turkmenistan will spend the Night of Omnipotence and Forgiveness at home. The Koran says that on this holy night (it falls this year on the night of 1-2 December) God makes a decision about people's fate, and people forgive each other. The president of Turkmenistan, Saparmyrat Nyyazow, supported the Muslim tradition.

The president has been signing pardon decrees before the Night of Omnipotence since 1999. The convicts, who commit unpremeditated crimes and deeply repent their misdeeds, are liable for the pardon. Before leaving prisons and penal colonies, the pardoned convicts vow not to break the law in future.

The majority of pardoned criminals become law-abiding citizens, the president said. The rate of pardoned criminals, who again commit crimes, is insignificant, which speaks in favour of the pardon acts, Nyyazow said. Every time the president instructs officials and economic managers to give comprehensive assistance to the adoption and employment of the pardoned convicts.

More than 100,000 convicts have been pardoned within the 10 years of Turkmenistan's independence. A total of 12,000 convicts were pardoned by the Night of Omnipotence in 2002, and 9,000, including 600 foreign citizens, in 2001. This year there are 162 foreigners on the list of pardoned convicts. /// ITAR-TASS


Moscow, 2 Dec—The Turkmen and Iranian presidents Sparmurat Niyazov and Mohammed Khatami agreed about exchanging visits, first of which is planned for the beginning of the next year. All details of forthcoming visit will be discussed during the visit of the Iranian Foreign Minister Kemal Kharrazi to the Turkmen capital, which is planned for the near future, Ashkhabad’s correspondent of reports.

During the phone talks with Saparmurat Niyazov the Iranian president categorically condemned the act of terrorism upon the Turkmen president. While discussing the regional cooperation, the Iranian president supported the initiative of Turkmenbashi about creation in the Central Asia of regional consultative council on the level of heads of the states.

Some aspects of the Caspian Sea dispute were as well discussed during the conversation. The heads of the states widely shared viewpoint about the necessity to speed up solution of issues on delimitation of the Caspian Sea. ///

Turkmenistan: Assassination Attempt or Political Theater?

Opposition leaders fear that an alleged attack on the president’s motorcade will be used to punish critics of the regime
ASHGABAT, Turkmenistan--An apparent attempt on the life of Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov has prompted the president to issue harsh statements against Russia and further crack down on Turkmenistan’s opposition forces.

According to media reports, the presidential motorcade was fired on at about 7 a.m. while traveling from the president’s residence in Archabil, 28 kilometers outside the capital, to the presidential palace. When the procession reached the gates of the palace, a truck blocked its way and machine-gun fire rang out from inside the vehicle.

Niyazov--who prefers to be called Turkmenbashi, or “father of all Turkmen,” and who has nurtured a cult of personality as leader of the former Soviet Republic--was uninjured, having arrived at work in advance of the motorcade.

The assailants were allegedly accompanied by two other cars, a BMW and a Russian-made Gazel. The incident took place in the middle of Ashgabat, within a kilometer of the presidential palace on a street called Turkmenbashi Prospect.

Turkmen media reported that a number of people had been injured as a result of the attack, including a presidential bodyguard who was struck by the truck as he attempted to stop it. Various international media, however, indicated that no one had been injured in the attack.

In the first hours after the incident, the government forbade local newspapers and television to cover what had happened. But word of the event spread quickly among the population. In the capital’s central marketplace, people passed on news of the attempted assassination in hushed tones.

Within hours, Niyazov had called an extraordinary meeting of the cabinet, where he gave the names of those he suspected and declared that 16 organizers had already been arrested. The assassination attempt had been carried out on the orders of the leaders of the National Democratic Movement of Turkmenistan, the president charged.

An incensed Niyazov blamed former Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Boris Shikhmuradov, former Deputy Prime Minister and Central Bank head Khudaiberdy Orazov, and former Turkmen Ambassador to Turkey Hurmukhamed Khanamova.

Khanamova now heads the Turkmen opposition abroad, and Shikhmuradov has been an outspoken critic of Niyazov since he went into exile in November 2001.

Imamberdy Yklymov, a former agriculture minister who fled Turkmenistan at the beginning of the 1990s, was also named on the blacklist. According to the official version presented by Ashgabat, the cars involved in the attempt belonged to Yklymov.

In addition, the government of Turkmenistan blamed unspecified Russian politicians for helping organize the attempt on Niyazov’s life. Presidential spokesperson Serdar Durdyev said that there are “politicians in Russia who are protecting the organizers of the assassination attempt.

“This was ordered from abroad,” Durdyev said, stressing that his words constituted an official statement.

Durdyev said that the president’s administration could not give specific names.

The Russian government made no comment on the declarations of the government in Ashgabat. “We do not consider it necessary to comment on statements in which there is not a single concrete fact nor name given,” a representative of the Russian Embassy in Turkmenistan told TOL under condition of anonymity.

The opposition is charging that the assassination attempt was nothing more than a staged event organized by the president himself. “[Niyazov] needs an excuse to declare open war against his opponents,” an opposition statement released in Ashgabat read.

“Now he has that excuse. An assassination attempt on a top government official is the direct path to label as terrorists people whom the government finds disagreeable,” the statement concluded.

It is common knowledge that the car that carries the president--who is known to fear attempts on his life--is armored and always surrounded by a full entourage. Niyazov’s famous security measures would seem to make such a blatant assassination attempt futile.

The country now awaits massive arrests and repression, which seem unavoidable judging by Niyazov’s enraged speech to the cabinet of ministers. The Turkmen prosecutor’s office has already opened a criminal case in the assassination attempt. The case references a number of legal articles, including statute 176 UK, encroachment against the president of Turkmenistan. The first point of the article carries a sentence of 15 to 25 years in prison.

/// Transitions Online, 2 Dec, Nyazik Ataeva is a pseudonym for a Central Asia-based writer,
Translated by Maria Antonenko.

Prosecutor General gives details of attempted coup

Ashgabat, 3 Dec—Turkmen TV telecast a detailed report about attempted coup. Prosecutor General, Gurbanbibi Atajanova, in an hour long speech, gave a comprehensive picture of the events of 25 November. TV report also showed animated re-enactment of events, clips of bullet ridden cars, video of alleged criminals who participated in various phases of the episode and discovered caches of arms, ammunition, radio equipment, camouflage uniforms and masks.

Here are excerpts from Gurbanbibi’s report: On 25 November criminal attack took place against President Niyazov. They criminals have been apprehended and they will answer for their deeds in the court of law. They will be punished according to our laws.

Organizers and planners of the crime were Sheikhmuradov, Hanamov, Orazov, Yklymov and Jumaev. Investigations have revealed how this act of terrorism was planned and executed.

The investigation committee comprising of representatives from Prosecutor General’s office, ministry of interior and ministry of national security have found that on 25 November at 7:15 AM local time, a criminal attack took place on Turkmenbashy highway. The purpose of the attack was to assassinate President Niyazov.

This was organized by Sheikhmuradov and his friends Hanamov, Orazov, Yklymov and Jumaev. This has been proved during the course of investigation. Sheikhmuradov created this criminal group and he himself was head of the group. He assigned specific tasks to each member of the group. The purpose of this plan was to remove the constitutional government of Turkmenistan through an act of violence.

Planning of the attack began early this year. They wanted to assassinate President Niyazov, change the government of Turkmenistan and get into power in a criminal way.

Sheikhmuradov and his friends provided financial support for this operation. He paid a lot of money and hired persons from Russian Federation for this purpose. They hired persons were drawing monthly salaries of US $ 500, paid by Sheikhmuradov. On completion of the task they had been promised US 25000 each. In case of death of a person, his family would have got US $ 50000 each. Implementation was taken up by Sheikhmuradov, Hanamov, Yklymov and his close friend Erdal Akka.

Guns, weapons and other items necessary for this scheme were purchased in Russia by Sheikhmuradov and Hanamov. The group was well equipped with arms and ammunition. Mehmet Yglmal Ekkam, a close friend of Sheikhmuradov, provided weapons training to the group.

Sheikhmuradov paid US $ 15000 to Mehmet every time he visited him. Gowunch Jumaev, Yklymov Yklym, Yylmag Mehmet Jumaev were assigned to lead the attack. They also looked after the criminals in their residential accommodations before the crime.

Three Chechens from Russia – Sadullayev, Berkoyev, Nuraliyev – were hired by Sheikhmuradov in Baku at a salary of US $ 500 per month. He arranged forged visas and sent them to Turkmenistan on 25 May 2002. Yklymov received these persons and accommodated them in his brother’s house. The house on Tselennaya Street in Ashgabat was their place of hiding. There they received training for the planned crime.

Six Turkish citizens were also hired: Ekrem Chelik, Chady Chelik, Omur Yokush, Mustafa, Bayram, Yylmaz, Ekhem Yshan. Jumaev and Erdal, through Gairat Corporation hired them and Sheraton Transport enterprises brought them into Turkmenistan.

On 2 November, Komarov, a Moldovan citizen with American passport, came to Turkmenistan.

These persons were hiding in different flats, houses and dachas. Guns were transported into the country by trucks with special concealed racks. Jumaev received them and handed over to Yklymov at house 15 on Tselennaya Street, Ashgabat.

On 23 November guns were sent to Jumaev’s dacha in Chuganly. Jumaev and Yklymov carried this movement.

On 24 November Yklymov, Jumaev and all other criminals gathered in the dacha. Jumaev’s family members and Yklymov and the hired criminals used narcotics and spirits till morning. They divided the tasks among themselves as what each person will be doing [during the attack]. They practiced for the crime till morning.

At about 6 in the morning on 25 November, the donned military uniforms, drew fire arms and put on masks. They embarked in two Gazel cars with state registration plates 73-32 and 86-88, Pajero, Bmw 36-96, and began moving toward Turkmenbashy highway. Kamaz truck was waiting for them near Yashlar street. Chary Jumaev, Yklymov, Ilamanov, Ata Nesyan, Sadulayev, Bishayev, Nuraliyev, Ekrem Chelik, Shady Chelik, Omur Yokush, Mustafa Yulmaz, Nejap Bayram, Mehmet Yshan stayed in the Gazel parked near houses close to the road. T Jumaev, Dowletov, Aman Yklymov were in the BMW, parked on the stadium side of the road. G Jumaev was in Kamaz. There were some more persons in BAZ 2107. All of them were armed with automatic weapons.

On 25 November at about 7:15 when Niyazov was coming to his office, as soon as he passed Yashlar street, Jumayev Gowunch drove Kamaz to Turkmenbashy street and blocked the road. He came out of the Kamaz and began firing at the cars [of presidential motorcade]. Firing also started simultaneously from BMW and Gazel. They thought they were firing at the president’s car. Firing wounded some people there. After firing they fled from the scene. Jumaev was the first to start firing and then others joined in.

Four traffic cops – Halmyradov, Kakaliyev, Ashirov and Bashimov – were injured by bullets. Now Halmyradov is in serious condition and he has been operated upon in the hospital. He is improving. The other 3 soldiers have already left the hospital.

Law enforcement agencies are vigorously pursuing the case. Statements of criminals and witnesses have been recorded. In all, 39 pieces of small arms were confiscated from the criminals. Masks, cars, uniforms have also been recovered. There is ample evidence to prove the crime.

Jumayev Gowunch has said in his statement that Sheikhmuradov, Hanamov and Yklymov were the planners and originators of this criminal scheme. He has also stated that the attack on the attempt on the president’s life was organized by Sheikhmuradov. He has confirmed that Sheikhmuradov hired persons for this plot and purchased weapons in Russia. Jumaev and Yklymov were given special tasks in the plan.

[Statement of Jumaev was shown on TV] I confess that I committed a heinous crime. Sheikhmuradov, Hanamov and Orazov organized this crime. Sheikhmuradov is the leader of this scheme. The aim was to change the government in Turkmenistan. It was planned for Monday, 25 November.

[TV showed confessional statements of other accused persons also. All of them named Sheikhmuradov as leader and organizer of this attempted coup.]

After failure in carrying out their mission, all of them fled to the dachas of Yklymov and Jumaev.

[Jumaev stated on television that he is sorry for his mistakes and he knows that there is no excuse for what he has done. He asked forgiveness for his son and brother who were also involved in this plan.] /// Turkmen TV

New ambassadors present credentials

Ashgabat, 3 Dec—Ambassadors of Spain, Ireland and Norway presented credentials to the speaker of parliament. Matters of mutual cooperation and possibilities for future cooperation were discussed. /// Turkmen TV

Russian journalist and script writer arrested in Turkmenistan, Russian agency

Moscow, 3 Dec—A well-known Russian journalist and script writer, Leonid Komarovskiy, has been arrested in Asgabat [Turkmen capital], Yevgeniy Lepetukhin, a sports' commentator of the Mayak radio company, told Ekho Moscow radio station.

Komarovskiy was arrested on 26 November 2002 during a business trip to Turkmenistan. He has been placed in the National Security Committee prison.

There was no communication with Komarovskiy up until 30 November. Last Saturday [30 November]] the US consul and a lawyer were allowed in to see him, Lepetukhin said. Komarovskiy is a citizen of Russia and of the USA.

Lepetukhin thinks that Komarovskiy's arrest is connected with his journalistic work and he calls upon the public to influence the situation in Turkmenistan.

Komarovskiy wrote the script for the film "SV. Spalniy vagon" ["(?SC). Sleeping Car"]. /// Ekho Moskvy news agency, Moscow

UPI reports: MOSCOW, 3 Dec—Security services in the Central Asian republic of Turkmenistan detained a U.S. citizen following last week's attack on President Saparmurat Niyazov's motorcade, Russian television networks said Tuesday.

Leonid Komarovsky, a 55-year-old Russian journalist who holds U.S. citizenship and lives with his family in the United States, was in Turkmenistan as a guest of Guvanch Dzhumayev, a Turkmen businessman and family friend.

Komarovsky's family said KNB national security officers arrested Dzhumayev, his father, his brother and his son, along with Komarovsky, on Nov. 26, a day after the apparent attack on the motorcade.

Komarovsky was being held at a KNB prison and U.S. consular officials asked Turkmen authorities for access to him. Komarovsky's wife told Russia's TVS television network she was worried her diabetic husband was not receiving medication.

Turkmenistan's KNB security service arrested at least 23 people, including several foreigners, and accused of involvement in a failed assassination attempt against Niyazov, and of plotting a coup against him.

Presidential spokesman Serdar Durdyev accused Dzhumayev of organizing the attack, which involved several men firing at Niyazov's motorcade as it sped through the center of Ashgabat, the country's capital.

Durdyev said the "assassination was planned for several months," adding "the plan called for seizing power in the country."

The presidential spokesman said the attackers of Niyazov's motorcade met in Dzhumayev's house on the eve of the attack and left for the scene of the crime directly from there.

Dzhumayev, an importer of consumer goods, had published an independent newspaper before it was shut down by Turkmen authorities.

Durdyev said Dzhumayev's son Timur was involved in the plot, and that 37 guns, including automatic rifles, as well as radios and other evidence had been taken from the detained suspects.

In a broadcast on national television, Niyazov said one of the arrested men was a Turkish mercenary who had admitted to being offered ,000 for his role in the attack.

Others accused of masterminding an attack on Turkmenbashi, or father of all Turkmens, as the Niyazov is called, include former Foreign Minister Boris Shikhmuradov, former Central Bank chief Khudaiberdy Orazov, former First Deputy Agriculture Minister Saparmurat Yklymov and former ambassador to Turkey Nurmukhamed Khanamov. Russia's RIA Novosti news agency reported Yazgeldy Gundogdiyev, the former head of presidential protocol, was also accused of involvement.

Shikhmuradov lives in exile in Moscow, while Yklymov is known to live in Sweden, where he sought political asylum.

Niyazov has accused his former ministers of plotting against him, and has asked Russian President Vladimir Putin to hand Shikhmuradov over to the KNB.

Several Russian politicians, however, believe Niyazov could have staged the attack himself to use it as a pretext to launch a massive crackdown on the opposition and seek the extradition of his foes from Moscow and elsewhere. /// UPI

AP reports: NEWTON, 3 Dec—The family of a man arrested following an attempt to assassinate the president of Turkmenistan denied yesterday that the man had any connection to the plot.

Leonid Komarovsky, of Newton, was arrested Nov. 26 and accused of being a part of the attempt to assassinate President Saparmurat Niyazov. His family said he had no connection with the president or with the alleged plot.

"He has nothing to do with what they're accusing him," his son, Eugene, said yesterday. "He was just there to explore possibilities of his business."

State Department spokeswoman Anne Marks confirmed that an American citizen was under arrest in Turkmenistan, but said she had no additional comment because officials did not have permission from the detainee or the family to discuss the case publicly.

"We understand that an American citizen is being detained in Turkmenistan. We are seeking consular access to this individual," she said.

Komarovsky's family says he has had no direct contact with them, or with consular officials, and that their only contact has been through his lawyer in Turkmenistan.

President Niyazov's car came under fire from several vehicles and buildings last week when he was driving to work in the capital Ashgabat. The president was unharmed, but several people were injured, including a military police officer, who tried to stop the truck but was run over.

Komarovsky, 55, was staying with Guvanch Dzhumayev, who the family described as an old friend and business partner. Dzhumayev and his father, brother and son were arrested in Dzhumayev's home the day of the alleged assassination attempt, Komarovsky's family said, and Komarovsky was arrested the next day in the home.

Dzhumayev stands accused of organizing what Turkmen officials have labeled an attempted coup, said Serdar Durdyev, a spokesman for President Saparmurat Niyazov.

Komarovsky was in Turkmenistan to explore the possibility of doing business with Dzhumayev to import liquor from the Czech Republic, the family said.

They said Komarovsky was a victim of circumstance for associating with people who don't support Niyazov.

"He was probably at the wrong place at the wrong time, in the wrong house," said wife Galina Komarovsky through a translator.

Galina Komarovsky said she feared for her husband's health because he has diabetes and lacks medicine.

Niyazov has led Turkmenistan since 1985, when it was still a part of the Soviet Union. He has resisted moves toward democracy and economic reforms and cracked down on dissent, forcing many opposition figures into exile.

A personality cult has grown up around Niyazov, with his portrait adorning the national currency and most public buildings.

The government has accused four exiled former government officials of masterminding the attack. The four already face charges at home for allegedly embezzling state property.

Three, former Foreign Minister Boris Shikhmuradov, ex-Central Bank chief Khudaiberdi Orazov and former ambassador to Turkey Nurmukhammed Khanamov are believed to be living in Russia. In a telephone conversation Saturday, Niyazov appealed to Russian President Vladimir Putin to hand them over, according to Turkmen state television.

Officials have not said where they believe the fourth man, former First Deputy Agriculture Minister Saparmurat Yklymov, is living. However, on the day of the attack, Niyazov said he had asked Turkey, as well as Russia, to extradite the four alleged conspirators.

Durdyev told journalists yesterday that Dzhumayev was the main organizer of the attack within Turkmenistan.

Dzhumayev is known as an importer of pharmaceuticals and other products. According to the Moscow Helsinki Group, a respected Russian human rights organization, Dzhumayev published an independent newspaper in the early 1990s that was shut down by Turkmen authorities for its critical reporting. /// AP / The Metrowest Daily News

TOL reports: MOSCOW, 3 Dec—A famous Russian journalist and screen-writer, Leonid Komarovsky, has been detained in Turkmenistan, the Ekho Moskvy radio station reported on 2 December. Komarovsky was in the country on a business trip and was detained in Ashgabat, the Tukmen capital, on 26 November. The journalist is currently being held in a state prison. A lawyer and the U.S. consul were admitted to see Komarovsky on 30 November. Komarovsky holds dual citizenship of the United States and the Russian Federation [which is illegal in Russia]. /// TOL /

Niyazov: Turkmenistan pays US dlrs 42 for 1,000 CUM of gas

Ashgabat, 3 Dec—Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov said here Tuesday that Turkmenistan pays US dlrs 42 of cash for purchase of 1,000 cubic meters (CUM) of Iranian gas.

Speaking at a cabinet session, he also lauded Iran assistance in providing Turkmenistan with flour in the first few years following the break up of the Soviet Union. At the time Iran, itself, imported its flour from Australia, he said.

"Russia owed, but, did not provide us with even one kg of wheat and is now suggesting 'we sell them gas at a price of US dlrs 22', the Turkmen president said.

The two Caspian sea littoral state are have cordial ties. On Friday, Iranian President Mohammad Khatami in a telephone conversation with his Turkmen counterpart Saparmurat Niyazov condemned a recent assassination attempt on his life.

During the conversation, the two sides explored prospect of mutual relations and underscored the necessity for expansion of bilateral relations especially in energy and transportation sectors.

Khatami also voiced interest in Niyazov's proposal for establishment of a regional consultative council at presidential level in Central Asia.

The both sides also conferred on regional and international developments as well as Caspian Sea affairs, and felicitated each other on the forthcoming Eid ul-Fitr.

Niyazov, for his part, pointed to the two countries' similar stances on the issues related to the Caspian Sea and promotion of economic relations and stressed the need to bolster mutual and regional ties. /// IRNA


Moscow, 3 Dec—The Deputy chairman of the board of Gazprom company Alexander Riazanov stated in today’s interview to Vedomosti daily about intentions of Gazprom to supply Turkmen gas to Ukraine without assistance of Itera. According to him, Gazprom will supply the Turkmen fuel to Ukraine on the same terms the Itera used to do, and it is possible that the terms will be better.

Riazanov also stressed about the readiness of the Russian gas monopolist to carry out transit of Turkmen gas independently starting from next year. “Ukraine is “suffering”today because our limitations on deliveries of Itera’s gas makes 65%, it does not pay us for transit, Riazanov said. All these problems will be eliminated as soon as we sign contract with Ukraine.

In fact, currently Itera company comes as operator of implementation of the contract between Turkmenneftegas state corporation and Neftegas Ukraine national JSC on Turkmen gas supply. ///

Turkmenistan to reopen embassy in Baku - Azeri foreign minister

Baku, 3 Dec—ANS TV report: [Presenter] The Asgabat government will reopen its embassy in Azerbaijan. The Turkmen government appears to have made a small fortune, because when closing the embassy a year ago, the Asgabat government blamed everything on a lack of funds.

[Reporter over footage of Asgabat] The Turkmen embassy in Azerbaijan will reopen soon, [Azerbaijani] Foreign Minister Vilayat Quliyev has said.

To recap, the Turkmen embassy, which opened in Baku in June 1999, was suspended in July 2001. The embassy headquarters was moved to Asgabat. The Asgabat government explained this with a lack of funds. However, disagreements between Baku and Asgabat over the Caspian status were said to be the reason for the temporary closure of the embassy.

Vilayat Quliyev also believes that financial problems were secondary in suspending the Turkmen embassy in our country. Baku is for developing ties with Asgabat. To substantiate this, Vilayat Quliyev said that our embassy was working in Turkmenistan, although the president has not yet received the ambassador's credentials. The minister believes that relations with Turkmenistan are vital for Baku, and these relations need to be maintained and developed further. /// ANS TV, Baku

Turkmen opposition figure denies involvement in alleged bid to kill president

Moscow, 30 Nov—A senior figure in the Turkmen opposition in exile has denied any part in the reported attempt to assassinate President Nyyazow. It's not our way of operating, Hudayberdi Orazow said, adding that a basic level of democracy and accountability would satisfy the opposition. Interviewed by the Moscow tabloid Komsomolskaya Pravda, he also described the routine security surrounding Turkmen President Saparmyrat Nyyazow, some of which he helped arrange. The following is an excerpt from the interview, published on 30 November:

On Monday [November 25] news agencies reported the staggering news that an assassination attempt against Saparmyrat Nyyazow had been committed in Asgabat...

[Question] Is the organization of the attack your handiwork?

[Orazow] No. I myself found out about it from the radio and Internet. It was staged.

[Question] Evidence?

[Orazow] Everyone in Turkmenistan knows that Nyyazow's cars are invulnerable. When I was Central Bank chairman, we bought two cars - a Mercedes and a jeep - in Stuttgart specially for the president. They were already armoured, but they were sent to the Czech Republic for additional armour to be fitted. An additional 200,000 dollars was paid for each car. Even a grenade launcher could not pierce those cars now.

On Monday Nyyazow was travelling in that very Mercedes. Even if he had not had any bodyguards, he could have locked himself in the car: the terrorists - all 16 of them - could have fired as much as they wanted. And he could have sat and had a smoke, and then asked: "Has your ammunition run out, guys? Go home then."

[Question] Is the route that Nyyazow takes protected?

[Orazow] At least an hour before he uses it, soldiers and National Security Ministry staffers are posted on it. If an unknown car appears 200-300 metres away, it is immediately monitored.

[Question] But the mercenary gunmen who committed the terrorist attack were -

[Orazow] They were four Georgians, who were arrested and then released: they have nothing to do with it. This has been confirmed by both the Turkmen and the Georgian sides...

[Question] Do you use terror as a means of conducting the struggle?

[Orazow] It is not our method.

[Question] And you have no gunmen who could -

[Orazow] No! No! No! We need Nyyazow alive. The billions of dollars that have been stolen from Turkmenistan.... If he dies, who will return them to us?

If Nyyazow declared democratic changes in the country, we would immediately halt the opposition struggle. We are talking about four or five points: elected organs of power, freedom of the media, economic reforms. We are not some sort of maximalists striving for democracy as it exists in Sweden or Germany. /// Komsomolskaya Pravda, Moscow

World press reports on Turkmen coup plot confessions

ASHGABAT, 4 Dec—State television aired a taped confession by a chief suspect in an assassination attempt against Turkmenistan's authoritarian leader on Tuesday, and officials confirmed that a U.S. citizen also is being held in the case.

In footage filmed by prosecutors, Guvanch Dzhumayev, a prominent Turkmen businessman, begged for forgiveness for his role in the plot against President Saparmurat Niyazov, saying he ``fell into a web.''

``Now I am repentant, I'm very repentant,'' Dzhumayev said. ``Execute me, I'm ready for that.''

Niyazov's motorcade came under fire Nov. 25 while he was on his way to work in the capital Ashgabat. The president was unharmed but four police officers were injured, Prosecutor General Gurbanbibi Atadzhanova said Tuesday. The government says four former government officials who now live in exile organized the attack. The four already faced charges at home for allegedly embezzling state property.

Twenty-three people have been arrested in the plot, including U.S. citizen Leonid Komarovsky, Atadzhanova said. She said Komarovsky was riding in one of the gunmen's vehicles but gave no further details about his alleged involvement. Komarovsky's family in Newton, Mass., told The Associated Press on Monday that he was arrested the day after the assassination during a business trip to Turkmenistan. The family said Komarovsky had been staying with Dzhumayev, whom the family described as an old friend and business partner.

In televised remarks, Atadzhanova described Komarovsky as ``a mercenary from Moldova with an American passport.'' Komarovsky's family said he immigrated to the United States from Russia. Atadzhanova said it was ``completely proven'' that former Foreign Minister Boris Shikhmuradov masterminded the plot from Russia.

``He wanted to take power in Turkmenistan through force and to change the existing constitutional order,'' she said.

The government accuses Dzhumayev of being the attack's main organizer within Turkmenistan. In his taped confession, Dzhumayev said he acted on orders from Shikhmuradov.

Dzhumayev's father, son and younger brother are also under arrest, and the businessman pleaded for clemency toward them. Dzhumayev heads a major trading company that sells pharmaceuticals and building materials, and produces vodka. According to the Moscow Helsinki Group, a respected Russian human rights organization, Dzhumayev published an independent newspaper in the early 1990s that was shut down by Turkmen authorities for its critical reporting.

Komarovsky was in Turkmenistan to explore the possibility of doing business with Dzhumayev to import liquor from the Czech Republic, his family said. Niyazov has led Turkmenistan since 1985, when it was still a part of the Soviet Union. He has resisted moves toward democracy and economic reforms and cracked down on dissent, forcing many opposition figures into exile. A personality cult has grown up around Niyazov, with his portrait adorning the national currency and most public buildings. /// AP

ITAR-TASS reports: The former Turkmen prime minister, Boris Syhmyradow, has been named as the main organizer of the attempt on Turkmen President Saparmyrat Nyyazow's life and of the attempted coup d'etat. The prosecutor-general of Turkmenistan, Qurbanbibi Atajanowa, said this here, recalling that Syhmyradow headed the opposition People's Democratic Movement of Turkmenistan abroad.

[Passage to end omitted: known facts about the attempt; arrested people; the US State Department statement on the arrest of a US citizen] /// ITAR-TASS

Reuters reports: Turkmenistan said on Wednesday it had uncovered an international network of "mercenaries" behind last week's bid to assassinate its president, and named several Russian and Turkish nationals among the plotters.

Turkmen Television aired dramatic footage on Tuesday night of a key suspect confessing that he had acted on orders from exiled opposition leaders to kill Saparmurat Niyazov, the president-for-life who has almost unlimited power. The former Soviet state has accused Russia of protecting the plotters after Niyazov's motorcade was raked by machinegun fire on November 25 as it travelled through central Ashgabat. Niyazov escaped unhurt.

Russia has tense relations with the Central Asian state, and sees Niyazov as obstructing plans to share the vast mineral wealth of the Caspian Sea on their borders. Turkmenistan's Prosecutor General Gurbanbibi Atadzhanova said Russia had ordered the arrest of former Turkmen foreign minister Boris Shikhmuradov, singled out as the key conspirator.

"A search for him is under way now," Atadzhanova said in a statement published in the official Neitralny Turkmenistan daily, a claim quickly shot down by Russian prosecutors.

"The Turkmen side have not come to us with any requests," a spokeswoman for the Russian prosecutor general's office said in Moscow. "They are getting a little ahead of themselves." She said Moscow could not issue a warrant on Shikhmuradov, who is believed to be living in Russia, but could only comply with Turkmen requests for his extradition.

Atadzhanova said 23 suspects arrested in Turkmenistan were "international mercenaries", and accused prominent local businessman Guvanch Dzhumayev of playing a crucial role. Turkmen television aired footage of Dzhumayev's confession. "I am guilty, shoot me. I am ready for this," said a subdued Dzhumayev, seated against a bare wall in a smart grey suit.

"But I implore you to forgive my father and son in this (Muslim) holy month of Ramadan. I understand I became just a puppet in Shikhmuradov's hands," he said, his head bowed. Atadzhanova said Dzhumayev had confessed to masterminding the assassination attempt with a former ambassador to Turkey, an ex-central banker and a former deputy agriculture minister. There were Russian and Turkish nationals among the suspects named.

A human rights group said relatives of the suspects were being arrested. "In Ashgabat, they have arrested at least 100 people, and we know that in every other major city people have been arrested" said Anatoly Fomin, coordinator for Turkmen of Helsinki. /// Reuters reports: The heads of the criminal group, formed for organizing and perpetrating failed assassination on the Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov are former Turkmen deputy prime minister and foreign minister Boris Shikhmuradov, former Turkmen deputy prime minister and Central Bank chairman Khudaiberdy Orazov, former first deputy Turkmen agriculture minister Saparmurad Yklymov, and former Turkmen ambassador to Turkey Nurmukhamet Khanamov, the General Prosecutor of Turkmenistan Atadzhanova said by the Natoional TV.

Each of mercenaries was receiving USD 500 salary each months, and in case of success they were promised to get more 25,000 USD each. Another aspect of the terrorist attack was discussed preliminary – in case of death or being wounded the mercenaries or their family members would get USD 50,000 each. The investigation also disclosed the ways mercenaries came to Turkmenistan, bring arms and the plan of the whole assassination. The criminals knew about armored Mercedes of Turkmenbashi and hoped that the assassination attempt will be successful only if the car would crash to KAMaz truck. All detained criminals confessed being guilty facing irrefutable evidences. All of them as well as the organizers of the crime hiding now abroad are charged with organizing crimes, illegal purchase and carrying weapons and encroachment upon the health and life of the Turkmen president, intentions of taking power in Turkmenistan through force and change the existing constitutional order. ///

Another report by The General Prosecutor of Turkmenistan Kurbanbibi Atajanova named during her speech aired by the National TV those terrorists – citizens of foreign states, who are suspected in assassination on the Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov. The Prosecutor named Saduldayev Ruslan, Bishoyev Amirbek, Nuraliyev Magambet (citizens of Russia and Chechnia) Yilmaz Mekhmet Iksan, Ekrem Chelik, Shadi Chelik, Omur Yokuz, Mustaf Mesut Boler, Nejap Bayram (Turkish citizens), Leonid Komarovskiy (from Moldova with US passport), Aram Atanessian (no data on citizenship).

Kurbanbibi Atajanova pictured the details of the act of terrorism, actions of all of them and their plans in case of failure. Some evidences of the assassination were shown The head of the crime Guvancha Jumayev also was shown by the TV saying: “I thought that I was caught in nets spread by Shikhmuradov and become a puppet in his hands. I regret for doing this and ready for any punishment. I would like to ask you to be merciful to my father, son and my younger brother who believed me. I know that I have no right to ask you to be mercy to me.” ///

Another report by AP: Turkmenistan's top prosecutor turned up pressure on Russia Wednesday to hand over the alleged organizers of an assassination attempt against President Saparmurat Niyazov, saying much of the financing for the plot originated in Russia.

Turkmen officials have accused four exiled opposition members of organizing the Nov. 25 attack, when gunmen opened fire on Niyazov's motorcade in the capital Ashgabat. Niyazov was unharmed but officials say four police officers were injured.

Prosecutor General Gurbanbibi Atadzhanova said three of the opposition members financed the attack from Russia, giving the gunmen a monthly stipend of US and offering them US,000 if they managed to kill Niyazov.

The gunmen were also promised that their families would receive US,000 if they were killed during the operation, Atadzhanova said, in a statement published in Wednesday's edition of the newspaper Neutral Turkmenistan. Investigators have also determined that weapons, masks, camouflage clothing, and other equipment used by the gunmen came from Russia, she said.

The three opposition members — identified as former Foreign Minister Boris Shikhmuradov, former Central Bank chief Khudaiberdi Orazov, and former ambassador to Turkey Nurmukhammed Khanamov — are believed to be living in Russia. Turkmen officials, including Niyazov, have called repeatedly for their extradition.

At least 23 people have been detained on suspicion of involvement in the assassination attempt. Atadzhanova said among them are three Chechens, six Turks, one Armenian, and a U.S. citizen, whom she identified as Leonid Komarovsky.

The three Chechens flew to Turkmenistan from Azerbaijan's capital Baku on May 25 and used false passports to gain entry into the country, she said.

Niyazov has resisted moves toward democracy and economic reform in Turkmenistan, an impoverished but energy-rich country in former Soviet Central Asia. Instead, he has fostered a massive personality cult around himself, with his portrait adorning the national currency and most public buildings. /// AP

USA concerned over Turkmen investigations into assassination attempt

Washington, 4 Dec—The USA has expressed concern over Turkmen authorities' methods of conducting investigations into the attempt on the life of the president, Saparmyrat Nyyazow.

"We understand the Turkmen government's desire to carry out thorough investigations into this attack and take the culprits to court, however we are concerned about the methods of conducting the investigations," a statement made by an official representative [deputy spokesman of the Public Affairs Bureau] of the US State Department, Philip Reeker, said.

Reeker said that the US concern was caused by the fact that the Turkmen authorities had not notified the US embassy in Asgabat about the arrest of a US citizen in connection with the investigations into the attempt on Saparmyrat Nyyazow's life. Accordingly, the man was not provided with consular services in time.

Washington assesses this as a flagrant violation by Turkmenistan of its commitments to international law, according to which, in case of arrest of a foreign citizen the authorities should immediately notify his country about the arrest and ensure providing him with necessary consular services.

"We express sympathy to the victims of the attack and call on the Turkmen government to conduct an open and fair investigation in full compliance with the country's constitution and the international law," the statement said. ///ITAR-TASS


Aftermath of Assassination Attempt in Turkmenistan

The United States deplores the violence committed during the reported assassination attempt against President Niyazov on November 25. We offer condolences for victims of the attack.

While we understand the desire to investigate thoroughly the attack and bring those guilty to justice, we are concerned by the manner in which the investigation is being conducted. We have received numerous reports of wide scale arrests, including the arrest or detention of entire families of those individuals accused of participating in the reported attack.

We are also concerned that the U.S. Embassy did not receive immediate notification of and was not allowed timely consular access to an arrested American citizen – a clear violation of Turkmenistan’s obligations under international law to provide immediate notification of the arrest of and consular access to detained foreign citizens.

We call on the Government of Turkmenistan to conduct its investigation in a full, fair and transparent manner consistent with its obligations under the Constitution of Turkmenistan and international law. /// US Embassy in Ashgabat

RFE/RL reports: The U.S. State Department has accused Turkmenistan of violating international law in its arrest of an American citizen in connection with the attempt to kill Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov (pictured).

The State Department said it deplores the violence surrounding the reported assassination bid, but expressed concern about the conduct of the investigation, in which large numbers of people have been detained.

State Department spokesman Philip Reeker criticized Turkmenistan's treatment of Leonid Komarovsky, a dual U.S.-Russian citizen, who was detained as part of the investigation a day after the 25 November attack.

Reeker said the U.S. is concerned that the American embassy in Ashgabat did not receive immediate notification and was not allowed timely consular access to Komarovsky, who is described as a businessman.

The AP quotes Komarovsky's family as saying he had been staying with a Turkmen friend, Guvanch Dzhumaev, who has been identified by Turkmen authorities as a chief suspect in the assassination attempt. Niyazov was unhurt in the attempt, in which gunmen opened fire on his motorcade as he was travelling to work in Ashgabat.

The government accuses four exiled former government officials of masterminding the attempt. Turkmen officials say 23 people have been arrested in connection with the attack -- more than half of them foreigners, including Chechens, Turks, and an Armenian. /// RFE/RL

Turkmenistan begins exporting electricity to Tajikistan

Ashgabat, 4 Dec—As of 5 December 2002, Turkmenistan is beginning supply of electric energy to Tajikistan. For the purpose of developing further the energy sector of Turkmenistan and taking into account the request of Tajik side, Turkmenistan will begin supply of electricity to Tajikistan to implement the presidential decree signed on 4 December 2002.

Total sum of the agreement is US $ 14.4 million and it envisages supply of 1 billion 200 million kW hrs of electro-energy.

Tajikistan is supposed to pay 60% of the bill in hard currency and 40% in aluminum products, equipment and spare parts required for electric power complex of Turkmenistan. In addition to meeting domestic demands, Turkmenistan is exporting electric energy to Iran and Afghanistan. /// International Press Department at President Niyazov’s Office

Turkmenistan: Niyazov Cracks Down On Foreigners After Assassination Attempt

By Zamira Eshanova
After an alleged assassination attempt on President Saparmurat Niyazov on 25 November, Turkmenistan is tightening its borders and stepping up surveillance of its resident foreigners. More than half of the 23 people detained in connection with the assassination plot are non-Turkmen. RFE/RL reports on the latest developments may leave Turkmenistan even further isolated from the outside world.

Prague, 4 Dec—In an emergency government meeting on 2 December, Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov presented new allegations about last week's reported assassination plot -- and new ideas about how to secure peace and human rights in his country.

According to Niyazov's presidential spokesman, more than half of the 23 people detained in connection with the plot are foreigners. In addition, Niyazov, who initially named four members of the Turkmen opposition in exile as the assassination masterminds, has broadened his allegations to include several countries that he says lent support to the four.

The first on the list is Russia, which Ashgabat has accused of harboring one of the four suspects, Boris Shikhmuradov, a former Turkmen foreign minister and close presidential aide who fled Turkmenistan for Russia last year. Moscow has repeatedly refused to extradite Shikhmuradov, fueling growing distrust between the two countries.

Then there is Azerbaijan, which Niyazov says is guilty of issuing Turkmen visas to foreign criminals. Next is Turkey, which stands accused of financing the assassination attempt and which has seen six of its citizens detained in the sweep of arrests in the country. Finally, there is the United States, whose citizen, Russian-born Leonid Komarovsky, was arrested at the home of the man who has now been named as the main plotter, former Turkmen government official Guvanch Djumaev.

In his eagerness to lay blame during his speech Monday, Niyazov demanded an explanation from Azerbaijan's ambassador to Turkmenistan, a post that had not existed until the day before. "Why did Azerbaijan issue a Turkmen visa to criminals? Rashid [Turkmen Foreign Minister Rashid Meredov], call Azerbaijan's ambassador to Turkmenistan immediately and demand that Baku provide an explanation. If you want to guard borders, start from this. Why does Azerbaijan issue Turkmen visas for Russian citizens? Because Shikhmuradov bribed them. From now on, don't accept such visas!" Niyazov said.

Niyazov also ordered the creation of a new special committee whose task it would be to interrogate all foreign citizens upon their arrival in Turkmenistan. "From now on, I will have a special service that will find out who is coming to the country, for what purpose, for what period of time, and when they will [leave]. Moreover, this service should clarify the person's past, where he goes, with whom he meets. That should be an obligatory procedure. Only then will there be peace in the country. The National Security Committee and Interior Ministry are responsible for that. We don't want to violate human rights," Niyazov said.

According to Niyazov's new order, foreigners arriving in Turkmenistan must get a special registration, which will cost a minimum of -, in addition to a Turkmen visa, which costs an average of and is almost impossible to obtain.

Vitalii Ponamarev, a Central Asian program director for the Moscow-based Memorial human rights organization, said that these new procedures are aimed at putting the final seal on a country that was already almost completely isolated from the outside world. "Even without the [new rules for foreigners], entering Turkmenistan has become extremely difficult over last two years, even with tourist visas. I think new procedures will simply create an unprecedented regime of isolation," Ponamarev said.

Ponamarev said that these latest orders by Niyazov -- also known as Turkmenbashi, or Father of all Turkmen -- reflect his long-standing fear of dissent and his desire to suppress it at any cost. "I think all these things are connected with Turkmenbashi's belief that, in general, all dissent and all dangers to his regime may come, first of all, from outside," Ponamarev said.

Ponamarev added that reports from Turkmenistan indicate that army troops and armored vehicles are now being sent to country's borders, especially those with Kazakhstan.

Niyazov's security crackdown is not limited to foreigners. During Monday's emergency government meeting, he also ordered the Ashgabat governor and the head of the National Security Committee to conduct a house-by-house search for suspects and to watch every move of the capital's citizens. "It is my order. The governor of Ashgabat, you will be directly responsible for the capital and its surroundings. Summer houses, all houses must be searched [to determine] who lives there, and if they have proper documents. You, the chief of the National Security [Committee], if some dirt comes out, you personally will face the proper criminal charges," Niyazov said.

Niyazov's actions have gained the attention of the outside world. U.S. State Department spokesman Philip Reeker yesterday accused Turkmenistan of violating international law by failing to provide immediate notification of the arrest of, and consular access to, Komarovsky, who has Russian and U.S. citizenship. Reeker also expressed concern over wide-scale arrests and called on the Turkmen government to conduct a "full, fair, and transparent investigation" into the incident.

Turkey and Azerbaijan have yet to issue an official response to Niyazov's accusations. Russia last week brushed off the Turkmen president's remarks as absurd. /// RFE/RL

Turkmen president criticizes foreign media reports on mass arrests

Ashgabat, 6 Dec—Former senior Turkmen officials who are now staying abroad would not be able to stage a terrorist attack on their own, President Saparmyrat Nyyazow told top officials of the Council for Religious Affairs, a meeting with whom was shown live on the Turkmen TV on Friday [6 December].

"Those behind [Guwanc] Jumayev [businessman], [former Foreign Minister Boris] Syhmyradow, [former Ambassador to Turkey Nurmuhammet] Hanamow and [former Minister of Agriculture Ymamberdi] Yklymow (former senior officials accused of organizing a terrorist attack on Nyyazow at the end of November) act in a very subtle way. They never come into the open. They have others do their dirty work while they talk of democracy. They pushed the criminals to act. And these are just puppets. What they want is money. They were told that if they succeed in making a lot of noise, they who had been humiliated and exiled would be given back senior positions. This did not work," he said.

Certain foreign media outlets report of mass arrest in Turkmenistan after the attack and generally misguide their audience about the situation in the country, even though they know that just 23 people have been arrested, Nyyazow said. "They do not say that we have acted properly by arresting criminals, terrorists. Yesterday, when terrorists were attacking them, they understood everything. Today, when this happens elsewhere, they do not understand anything," he said.

Such media reports are dictated by plans to deprive Turkmenistan of its political and economic independence, Nyyazow said. "Turkmenistan is a neutral country. Turkmenistan possesses very good air strips. This country's strategic position is most favourable. Its mineral resources account for one third of the world's stores of gas. There are thousands of billions tonnes of oil on its Caspian shores," he said. /// Interfax

Turkmen TV reports: Ashgabat, 5 Dec—Turkmen President Saparmyrat Nyyazow has accused the media of misleading their audience with false information about the situation in the country. Talking to the Turkmen clergy on 5 December, the president said that those who were behind the attempt on his life would be prosecuted according to the law and that no one would be hurt or tortured. The speech was broadcast by Turkmen TV first channel on the same day. The following are excerpts from the report. Subheads have been added editorially.

[Correspondent] Our dear president, Saparmyrat [Nyyazow] Turkmenbasy the Great had the following to say when he addressed the clergy:

[Nyyazow] Thank you. And in the mosques tomorrow, during the holiday, say "thank you" to the people. There has been an attempt on the president's life. There are cases in history when [people] tried to [words indistinct] national interests and take away each other's share. It has happened in the world. And now some people have tried to carry out a criminal act. They have been caught. There were 23 people - Jumayews, Syhmyradows, Yklymows and Hanamows. They have no wisdom in their heads.

There are also people behind them. That is what I am thinking about. Let us understand them. They act indirectly. They never show their faces. They act with the hands of others, with great words about democracy. They were told that they had been exiled by the government, that they would get back into leadership, and they were told to go and make a noise. It did not work. God saved [us]. They were all standing there [presumably when shown in a TV programme] with trembling hands and moustaches.

[Passage omitted: he talks about the investigation.]

Media mislead
Now the media are saying that mass arrests have started in Turkmenistan. There are those who tried to write that too. They know that 23 people have been arrested. These people were armed, and the world community knows that. They [the media] do not need anything. They need them to be acquitted. These media have also been bought. Who recognized that we have acted properly, that we have arrested criminals, terrorists? Yesterday, when they had a terrorist attack, they understood it, but they don't understand the one that happens elsewhere. It happens. It is becoming clear now everywhere.

These people are trying to influence the life of the Turkmen. The Turkmen nation has just opened its eyes, has just gained a leadership. It is choosing its own destiny. It has regained its religion and language. These people see the political and economic independence of Turkmenistan. Turkmenistan is neutral. Turkmenistan has very good military airfields. There is no other more strategic point than Turkmen territory in relation to any point. They know that too. Turkmenistan has one-third of the world's gas reserves on its territory. There are thousands of billions [of tonnes] of oil off its Caspian shores.

There is some group that raises its [word indistinct]. We are aware of that. It has been the case in history. One of them talks about democracy, another about reform, another one says something else. Envy exists [chuckles] among the large, medium-size and small states. Countries cannot be taken by force any more. There are no such military campaigns as there used to be, as in the times of the Seljuks and the Greeks. Such a thing does not exist any more. Now it is done internally. States are overthrown from within. Many empires have been overthrown.

[Passage omitted: Syhmyradow's crimes are widely known; known details of the investigation.]

No torture
Now the accused are on their knees, asking for forgiveness. Why should they be forgiven? You have carried out a criminal act. It will all be decided according to the law. No one will be hurt or tortured. They will be prosecuted. We will discuss this further at the next parliamentary session. We will incorporate the category of betrayal in our laws. Let them neither die nor smile. Let them see it with their own eyes. Let them be punished for their crimes. Killing is a big mistake. God save us from that. Those who have been imprisoned know what it's like. One day, three days, ten days. It's hard.

[Passage omitted: the details of the prosecution will be made public.]

Thank you, I congratulate you on Id al-Fitr. May the sacrifices of the Turkmen people be accepted. No matter how tragic the incident that happened during Id al-Fitr, it has passed. Thank you all. /// Turkmen TV reports: From statement by Saparmurat Niyazov made at his meeting with religious leaders

"I would like to thank all people in mosques. There was an attempt at the president, and the president is the one who assigns the interests of the national state. During human history under pretext of the state interests there were many examples of oppressions of those who are weak. It was a world history. And now on 25-th of November armed people came to streets with criminal intentions. 23 persons are caught.

Jumayev, Shikhmuradov, Iklimov, Khanamov and Orazov are the organizers. But there are those who stand up for them. It is necessary to think of it. It should be understood. Those who, stands up for them, operate very delicately. They never open themselves. All of them are speaking about democracy, but they are not even close to democracy. They just use these wordings. They have pushed criminals to action, the criminals who are like puppets and were ready to do anything for money. They were promised, that if they make some noise they could be appointed to top positions as offended, expelled, restrained ones. They failed. Allah protected...

Now there are many statements in the press saying that total arrests have begun in Turkmenistan. There are people who spread this kind of information. Although, only 23 persons are arrested. They know, that these 23 armed persons have broken laws of the world community. I have no in minds all journalists, mass media of some countries do that. They do not stress that we were acting correctly, that we have arrested criminals, terrorists. They forget that recently they were facing terror. This event affected strongly the life of Turkmens … Now a struggle for preserving political and economic independence is going on. Turkmenistan is a neutral country. There are good military air bases in Turkmenistan, and out state is in rather favourable geo-strategic position. Everyone knows that third of all world reserves of gas is in Turkmenistan. Billions tons of oil are at the Caspian Sea shore.

History shows that there were captures among big and small countries. Whether under pretext of democracy, whether under pretext of reforms. Now there are no military campaigns, wars. Now enemy comes from inside, the states disorganize from inside. Many empires were ruined in this way. As for our country they say about dictatorship and violation of human rights in the state. Do they know that nobody is in prison for political reasons in Turkmenistan, nobody is pursued. And nobody kills and kidnaps foreigners.

Maybe they don’t know, that Shikhmuradov is a thief? We have sent materials about illegal plane deals of Shikhmuradov. They say that he left the state. But in a week he appears on the TV program. Behind all these attempt there is a necessity to use him as a tool. Therefore our Turkmen state should join together. Law is like a tree. People live on branches of this tree. And when someone will start shaking this tree all people should protect this state tree. Everyone should be on their places on alert – controlling airports, borders more strictly and to fix who enters and leaves the state …

For example currently Turkish deputy minister of Security is working here, participating in investigation of crimes of 6 Turks. We do not have any problems with them, a joint investigation is under the way, there is a mutual understanding in work. I also address to other countries to send their inspectors, and start joint investigation.

Everything should be solved within the frames of the law. There should not be a place of revenge. They should answer before the law. Next summer the Council of Elders will discuss the way of solving similar questions in the future. What to do with those who creates groups aimed at coup. For this purpose we shall make changes to laws. The death is not necessary. While the investigation is under the way, every information on this case will be delivered to the public in due time. We will inform about punishments of criminals. ///

Turkmen leader addresses nation on Id al-Fitr, urges unity

Ashgabat, 5 Dec—Turkmen President Saparmyrat [Nyyazow] Turkmenbasy the Great has congratulated the dear nation of the neutral Turkmenistan on Id al-Fitr. It starts with the following words.

Dear fellow countrymen, my dear nation.

It has been several years now since our nation started to widely celebrate Id al-Fitr as a national holiday. Let your Id al-Fitr be accepted. Let God accept all your prayers and good deeds. Let God send a peaceful, tranquil and successful life to your families for your prayers. The wholesome effect of Id al-Fitr is reflected on the increasing unity among our people, on its growing wealth and prestige of our country. Today we have become the owners of our holy independence and neutrality, and we deserve to be proud of our great and honourable history that goes back centuries, invaluable spiritual heritage and wonderful traditions of our religion. The beloved nation of our sunny country, independent and neutral Turkmenistan, is living in peace and accord, without knowing storms or experiencing shock. It is friendly and united, it is inspired in the way I wrote in the Ruhnama [spiritual code] that the Turkmen nation is loved and blessed by God. Grandiose deals and prestigious aims are awaiting the flourishing Turkmen nation. In order to achieve them, we need spiritual perfection and inspiration. A person can become morally clear and spiritually strong by reading the Ruhnama thoroughly, by accepting instructions and exhortations with all his heart and by following them. I wish all of you to become such people.

Beloved Turkmen people, my dear nation.

I wish all Turkmens to be spiritually strong, to be friendly and united, to live in a golden age. I wish all of you to live in peace and accord, to have a kind, a successful life and to have an eternal source of inspiration. Our lands saturated with the blood of our ancestors must become a source of kindness and abundance. The spiritual values inherited from ancestors must form the national conscience of our country to become a treasury of human spirituality.

Taking advantage of this opportunity, I once more congratulate you on Id al-Fitr. I wish you sound health and success, and peace and tranquillity to your families. And let your fasting, prayers and sacrifices be accepted by God. Let there be the world and let there be independent Turkmenistan in it. Let there be the world and let the powerful and steadfast Turkmen nation always stand out. Let the Turkmen nation live in peace and accord.

[Signed] The president of Turkmenistan, Saparmyrat [Nyyazow] Turkmenbasy. /// Turkmen TV

US leader congratulates Turkmen president on Id al-Fitr

Ashgabat, 5 Dec—To His Excellency, Saparmyrat Nyyazow, the president of Turkmenistan.

Dear Mr President.

Sending my best wishes to you on behalf of the American people on the occasion of Id al-Fitr gives me great delight. The holiday is known in your country as Oraza Bayram, which means the end of Ramadan. It is an important holiday for all the Muslims of the world, and we send best wishes to the Turkmen nation, starting from Turkmenabat [the administrative centre of Lebap region] to Turkmenbasy [the president]. I would like to thank you for your message on the occasion of Ramadan given to US ambassador Laura Kennedy on Id al-Fitr on your behalf. We carry out such events throughout the world and in the White House in order to express our respect to Islam. I hope that this day will bring all the best to all of your citizens, both Muslim and non-Muslim.

Truly yours, George Bush, the president of the United States of America. /// Turkmen TV

Australian envoy presents credentials to Turkmen speaker

Ashgabat, 5 Dec—Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Australia Leslie Rowe started his duties as ambassador plenipotentiary to Turkmenistan today, after presenting his credentials to the chairman of the Mejlis, Turkmen parliament, Owezgeldi Atayew, Turkmen TV first channel reported on 5 Dec 02.

At the meeting, the sides discussed economic cooperation and international terrorism, the report said.

"At the meeting, the sides talked about the issue of international terrorism. This issue is especially significant today since a recent incident in [the Turkmen capital] Asgabat [an attempt on the Turkmen president's life] and a tragic incident in the [Indonesian] island of Bali [Australian nationals died in a bombing]," the TV report said.

The head of the Turkmen parliament, who received the guest on the order of Turkmen President Saparmyrat Nyyazow, warmly welcomed the diplomat and conveyed to him Saparmyrat Turkmenbasy's words voicing confidence that bilateral relations between Turkmenistan and Australia would expand and develop for the benefit of the people of both countries. /// Turkmen TV

Armenian embassy in Turkmenistan unaware of assassination suspect's citizenship

Yerevan, 5 Dec—Aram Atanesyan, who has been arrested by the Turkmen authorities for taking part in an attempt on President Saparmyrat Nyyazow's life, has not contacted the Armenian embassy in Asgabat.

Armenian consul to Turkmenistan, Garik Israelyan, said today in an interview with Mediamax news agency that "bearing in mind the fact that the Turkmenistan Foreign Ministry has not sent any inquiry to the Armenian embassy, one can assume that Aram Atanesyan is not an Armenian citizen".

Garik Israelyan said that he had contacted the Turkmenistan Foreign Ministry but the ministry did not have any official information about Aram Atanesyan.

The consul said that the Armenian embassy did not plan to take any steps with regard to Atanesyan until it received an official inquiry from the Turkmen authorities. /// Mediamax news agency, Yerevan

Turkey requests dossier on citizens involved in attempt on Turkmen president

Ankara, 5 Dec—The Turkish ambassador to Turkmenistan, Mehmet Bahattin Gursoz, said on Thursday [5 December] that they requested information about identities of the six persons who were involved in an assassination attempt against Saparmurad Turkmenbasi, the Turkmen president, adding he has not received any information about them yet.

Responding to questions about the issue, Gursoz said that the six Turks mentioned in official statements of Turkmenistan were hired in return of money by those who planned the assassination attempt.

Gursoz said that they only contacted with the first Turkish citizen who was captured and that he confessed that he was involved in the attempt.

Gursoz said that he was not yet informed about the names of the remaining five persons, adding "we try to learn the names of them. We requested information in written form. If not today, I suppose we will get information tomorrow."

Gursoz said that they inform Turkey about the issue, adding that "we are sorry due to the involvement of Turkish citizens in such an incident."

An assassination attempt was launched against Turkmenbasi on 25 November. Turkmenbasi was not injured in the incident. /// Anatolia news agency, Ankara

Three Turks' roles alleged in Turkmenbasi assassination attempt

Ankara, 5 Dec—Three Turkish citizens and three Chechens are alleged to have taken part in the assassination attempt against Turkmenistan head of state Saparmurat Turkmenbasi.

Turkmenistan Chief Prosecutor Gurbanbibi Atadzhanova alleged three Turkish citizens, one Armenian and three Chechens were among the foreigners who took part in the assassination attempt on November 25.

Atadzhanova alleged that ,000 for each person was pledged for the killing of Turkmenbasi.

Turkmenbasi, speaking to a television channel, had said they were aware that a Turk took part in the assassination attempt and was offered 8,000 euros for his role.

Serdar Durdiyev, spokesman of Turkmenistan head of state, said 23 people were arrested in connection to the assassination attempt and most of these were foreigners. Leonid Komarovski, who has both American and Russian citizenship, is among these foreigners.

Though the assassination plot against Turkmenbasi failed, two officials had been injured in the attempt. /// Turkish Daily News

Turkmen Foreign Ministry summons Azeri envoy over attempt on president's life

Baku, 5 Dec—ANS TV report: [Presenter in studio] Cool relations between Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan are likely to deteriorate even more. Asgabat blames Azerbaijan for granting visas to participants in the attempt on [Turkmen President] Saparmyrat Nyyazow's life. We contacted the Azerbaijani ambassador to Turkmenistan, Elxan Huseynov, some time ago. He said he was summoned to the Turkmen Foreign Ministry over this issue. He also said:

[Ambassador over telephone] He is accusing [as heard]. However, I went to the Foreign Ministry there and I was told that six Georgian citizens crossed the Azerbaijani territory with passports issued by the Georgian Foreign Ministry and that a person called Merab allegedly bought a fake visa in Azerbaijan. I mean there is no talk about blaming the government or someone else here. Someone allegedly sold a false visa to the criminal. I pointed out that it was impossible. /// ANS TV, Baku

Another report by ANS TV: Baku, 5 Dec—ANS TV report: [Presenter] The probe into the attempt on President Saparmyrat Nyyazow's life has further strained relations between Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan. At first, Turkmenistan accused high-ranking Russian officials. Now, Turkmenistan is accusing Azerbaijan as well. Azerbaijani ambassador to Turkmenistan Elxan Huseynov was summoned today to the Turkmen Foreign Ministry for an explanation. Nyyazow has yet to receive the credentials of the Azerbaijani ambassador.

[Correspondent over archive footage] Turkmenistan blamed Azerbaijan for granting visas to people who took part in the assassination attempt. Nyyazow demanded an urgent explanation from Azerbaijan in this regard and asked why Azerbaijan granted visas to criminals? For this reason, Huseynov was summoned to the Turkmen Foreign Ministry. Official Baku has nothing to do with this case, Huseynov told Turkmen Foreign Minister Rashit Meredow.

[Huseynov by phone] I told him that this is impossible because we cannot issue visas even for our citizens. Our foreign ministry, and our government cannot issue visas.

[Correspondent] Huseynov specified Turkmenistan's accusations against Azerbaijan.

[Huseynov] The accusation against us is that those six people with Georgian passports allegedly arrived in Turkmenistan via Azerbaijan.

[Correspondent] There is some logic in that. What about the countries whose citizens were involved in the assassination attempt?

[Huseynov] Among the 23 people detained there is one Armenian, as well as people from Moldova with US passports, six Turkish citizens. So, Turkmenistan has more grounds to make accusations against other countries.

[Correspondent] The response of the head of the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry's press service, Matin Mirza, was very short.

[Matin Mirza] Turkmenistan's accusations against Azerbaijan are groundless. Azerbaijan is against separatism and terrorism. /// ANS TV, Baku

Iranian President Khatami felicitates Turkmen counterpart on Id al-Fitr

Tehran, 5 Dec—President Mohammad Khatami, in a message to his Turkmen counterpart Saparmyrat Nyyazow on Thursday [5 December], congratulated his government and the nation on the occasion of Id al-Fitr.

"I congratulate Your Excellency and the Muslim people of Turkmenistan on the advent of Id al-Fitr which is the eve of blossoming of human nature and its elevation," Khatami said in a part of his message.

The Iranian president sent similar messages to the leaders of other Islamic countries.

Id al-Fitr is the biggest Muslim festival, marking the end of the fasting month of Ramadan. /// IRNA

Kyrgyz police detain Turkmen citizen with religious leaflets

Bishkek, 5 Dec—The head of the [Bishkek] city department of the Lenin District directorate of internal affairs [in the Kyrgyz capital, Bishkek], Omurbekov, and a district policeman, Sarykbayev, detained an extremist of the religious Hezb-e Tahrir party while checking the passport regime on 4 December 2002. The detainee, Yevgeniy Barmak, was born in 1979. He is a citizen of Turkmenistan. Materials and leaflets belonging to the religious extremist party Hezb-e Tahrir were found on him.

Confiscated from Barmak were one leaflet, which was sent from an official office of the Hezb-e Tahrir in Sudan in March 2002, leaflets of the Davpad party [transliterated], a booklet of political notions, which gives instructions in recruiting people, a computer, nine diskettes, a diary and notes of extremist parties' sermons in Russian and Arabic languages.

The city department of the Lenin District directorate of internal affairs said that Yevgeniy Barmak was Russian. He has recently adopted Islam and is highly literate in the religious subject.

He will be held in a holding centre until circumstances are investigated completely. /// AKIpress news agency, Bishkek

Turkmen president accuses Azerbaijan of complicity in assassination attempt

Baku, 5 Dec—Text of N. Ramizoglu report by Azerbaijani newspaper Ekho on 5 December entitled "Turkmenbashy condemns Azerbaijan for complicity in attempt on his life"

Citizens of various countries, including Russia, Turkey and even the USA, are on the list of people accused of taking part in an attempt on Turkmenbashy's life. However, the accusations levelled against Azerbaijan are somewhat more serious. [Saparmyrat] Nyyazow did condemn individuals, but the entire country.

At an extraordinary government session, Nyyazow blamed Azerbaijan for granting "foreign criminals", who tried to kill him, Turkmen visas [as published]. Radio Free Europe reports that the Turkmen president demanded an immediate explanation from Azerbaijan. "Why has Azerbaijan issued Turkmen visas to the criminals?" Nyyazow asked.

Turkmenbashy demanded that Turkmen Foreign Minister Rashit Meredow immediately summon the Azerbaijani envoy to Turkmenistan to submit the Baku government's explanation.

"Why has Azerbaijan granted visas to Russian citizens? Because [former Turkmen Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister] Boris Syhmyradow (one of the leaders of the Turkmen opposition) has bribed them. After this, such visas should not be considered," Nyyazow said. /// Ekho, Baku

Turkmen president sends spies to Azerbaijan - Baku paper

Baku, 1 Dec—Text of Tahir report by Azerbaijani newspaper Hurriyyat on 1 December entitled "Turkmenbashy has sent spies to Baku. What interests them in our country?"

Following an assassination attempt on Turkmen President S. [Saparmyrat] Nyyazow a few days ago, which many believe to be an invention, the president has launched a merciless repression campaign in this dictatorial country. Nyyazow blamed the attack on former Prime Minister [Boris] Syhmyradow and rebellious former ambassador Nurmuhhamet Hanamow.

The latter, who was ambassador to Turkey two years ago, openly came out against Turkmenbashy's policy and did not return to the country. He has revealed a number of facts compromising Nyyazow over the past years. After the known assassination attempt, Turkmenbashy arrested the rebellious envoy's close relatives who were still at large. This provoked Hanamow to make more serious revelations. He said two days ago that "because of the hatred towards his Azerbaijani opposite number (i.e. Heydar Aliyev), Nyyazow's secret services have reported to Turkmenbashy more than once that Heydar Aliyev was hiding forces opposed to Nyyazow in his country. For this very reason, Nyyazow has instructed the intelligence service to carry out special operations in Azerbaijan."

We must admit that this is quite a serious report, which contains a number of points that could attract the attention of the Azerbaijani special services.

The fact that there is a Turkmen opposition in our country and that Heydar Aliyev is hiding them raises questions in the first place. Who are these oppositionists? Are the spies being sent only to watch Turkmen oppositionists? Do they have any other mission in Azerbaijan? Who can guarantee that Nyyazow has not charged them with some other tasks? Can the spies use Azerbaijan as a transit country for committing acts of sabotage against the embassies of the USA and Russia, with whom Turkmenistan does not have good relations. Is the National Security Ministry aware of the fact that Turkmenbashy is laying down the law for Azerbaijan? Has any Turkmen spy been unmasked so far?

Hanamow appears to have uncovered a big issue. We turned with these questions to the presidential administration and the National Security Ministry. No-one answered the phone in the presidential administration. National Security Ministry Spokesman Araz Qurbanov said the following in a way typical of professional spies: "Those ideas are deliberations by a person who is in opposition to the Turkmen authorities. I do not think it necessary to comment on this. On the other hand, any undesirable activities by a country on the territory of another country are inadmissible, and appropriate structures take all necessary measures to prevent such cases."

So, are there Turkmen spies in Azerbaijan? If yes, what are they doing? The question remains open and we are not going to comment on any part of the ministry spokesman's statement even if there are such points. /// Hurriyyat, Baku


Moscow, 6 Dec—On the eve of Oraza ayram (Eid-Al-Fitr) the Turkmen leader Saparmurat Niyazov received the Ambassador of Arab Emirates In Turkmenistan Hasan Abdullah Al-Asab Al-Zaruuni to discuss main issues of development of bilateral cooperation, Ashkhabad’s correspondent of reports. While handing over to the Turkmen president congratulations of the head of Arab Emirates on the occasion of celebration of Oraza-Bayram, the Arab diplomat also expressed deep indignation over the assassination on the President Niyazov’s life. He stressed that the representatives of leading dynasty are ready to render all necessary assistance for investigation of the crime.

Then the sides discussed a wide spectrum of issues covering perspectives of development of bilateral partnership. Ak Zaruuni informed that an assistance will be rendered to the pupils of the Palace of children - orphans by the name of the president of United Arab Emirates Sheikh Zaed bin Sultan Al' Nahajjan, and also technical assistance to one of business centers of the capital, working under the patronize of the government of United Arab Emirates.

The Turkmen leader and Arab Diplomat also discussed details of expected in the near future visit of prince of Abu-Dabi, deputy Chief of Staff of United Arab Emirates Sheikh Zaed bin Sultan Al' Nahajjan. ///


Moscow, 6 Dec—Opening of regional Center of the US Council for International Education ACCELS opened in the Northern velayet of Turkmenistan, Ashkhabad’s correspondent of reports.

Accels is a non-governmental, non-commercial educational organization carrying out educational exchange. It is operating in Turkmenistan thanks to support of the US embassy.

According to representatives of this organization, the nearest plans of the regional centre include the organization of individual consultations, seminars, " round tables ", conditions for an easy approach of the population to information resources of the centre will be created. One of most popular programs of ACCELS in Turkmenistan is exchange programs for senior pupils of high schools, which receive an opportunity to be trained in United States within one year. ///


Ashkhabad is looking for new ways to world markets for its “invisible product”
Turkmenistan – is a state with surplus of energy, it completely supplies the country with electric power, but he as well can direct most part of its gas to export. Meanwhile, huge resources of gas allow the state to generate electric power using the most harmless and economic method. According to the State Service for Statistics and Information annual generation of electric power reached 10.5 billion Kwatt/hour last year, and 8.6 billion over 10 months of the current year.

Two main City Power Stations of the state – Mariysk and Abadansk (former Bezmeinsk), the both are currently under reconstruction and modernization, are being equipped with more powerful and productive gas pipes. Thanks to undertaken measures the energy potential of the state is growing permanently. Experts stress that in case of exploitation of existing capacity generation of electric power will increase for more 6-7 billion Kwatt/hour. At the same time along with growing production level Turkmenistan is looking for new ways of transportation of gas to abroad. Iran and Turkey in the future are considered here as main export directions. As the first stage of export of electric power to these states Balkanabad – Ali-Abad Turkmen-Iranian energy bridge was built. Later it will go to Armenia and Turkey. Preliminary negotiations about these projects have already been carried out.

From Mari Power plant electric power is exported to Tajikistan and Afghanistan. This year Tajikistan addressed to Turkmenistan with request to launch transportation via Uzbekistan for providing operation of Tajik aluminum plant during months (Autumn and Spring) when electric power generation in Tajikistan (generated at the Hydro plants) decreases because of natural reasons. According to agreement, over this period 1.2 billion kwatt/hour will be sold for 1.2 cents. The total cost of the contract is estimated at 14.4 million USD. Part of this sum will be spent in currency, and part – by deliveries of aluminum production. Northern provinces of Afghanistan as traditional consumers of Turkmen energy.

Still, delivery of electric power to Afghanistan, which is destroyed by war, is of course humanitarian action, however, in perspective this market may become a rather profitable one. At Turkmen-Afghan negotiations held in March 2002, agreements were reached, which foresees reconstruction of existing and construction of new electricity lines.

During November 28 phone conversation between president of Turkmenistan Saparmurat Niyazov and Chairman of interim government of Afghanistan Khamid Karzay the leaders of the both states agreed that after signing of trilateral agreement on construction of Transafghan gas main on December 26-27, the leaders will leave for Afghanistan where they will take part in the ceremony of launching construction of electric power lines to Great.

Thus, Turkmenistan is taking its leading place as a producer and exporter of electricity. ///


GazetaSNG online edition – about interview of former head of Central Bank of Turkmenistan
The former vice-Prime Minister and Chairman of the Central Bank of Turkmenistan Hudajberdy Orazov, who is in search declared by the State Office of Public Prosecutor of Russia at the request of the Turkmen side, gave an interview to the correspondent of Komsomolskaya Pravda Alexander Gamov.

The fact that the journalist of Komsomolskaya Pravda who is one of group from so-called "Kremlin" group covering on the pages of the newspaper mainly activity of the Russian president, managed to find and interview the person who is in search by the Russian special services, is rather strange.

Certainly, Khudayberdy Orazov in his interview "on a secret apartment " in every possible way denies any participation in preparation of attempt on Saparmurat Niyazov, having place November 25. At the same time he does not deny that it was illegal crossing the Turkmen border. The answer to the question on his current whereabouts sounds really strange for the ex-banker said that he came to Russia very rare, only for meeting some representatives from former USSR states.

Thus, Komsomolskaya Pravda involuntarily "has given out" the interlocutor of the newspaper, having opened law enforcement bodies of the Russian Federation the information that Orazov although rare, but appear on the territory of Russia.

The journalist has not set Orazov a logical question on why meetings "with representatives from distant foreign countries" should be carried out in the Russian territory. It is a pity, not very experienced in high diplomacy Orazov could disclose any other details of the visits to Russia in which appropriate law-enforcement structures could become interested. /// Victoria Orlova in GazetaSNG, Moscow, as received via, 6 December


A security sweep in Turkmenistan, coming in response to an assassination attempt against President Saparmurat Niyazov, is expanding. Niyazov has accused the Russian government of abetting a conspiracy to kill him, and is reportedly planning to purge all government workers in Ashgabat holding dual Turkmen-Russian citizenship. Meanwhile, Russia appears to be backing off earlier pledges to cooperate with Turkmenistan.

At the same time, the US government has criticized Turkmen authorities for rights violations connected with mass arrests made since the November 25 assassination attempt in Ashgabat. Specifically, Washington has complained about the treatment of a dual American-Russian citizen arrested November 26, and identified by Russian media as Leonid Komarovsky.

"While we understand the government of Turkmenistan’s desire to investigate thoroughly the attack [against Niyazov], we are concerned by the manner in which the investigation is being conducted," US State Department spokesman Philip Reeker said in a December 3 statement. "We are also concerned that the US Embassy did not receive immediate notification of, and was not allowed timely consular access to an arrested American citizen – in clear violation of Turkmenistan’s obligations under international law."

At a cabinet meeting December 2, Niyazov shrugged off foreign criticism of his response to the assassination attempt, as well as anti-government protests that are reported to have taken place in Turkmenistan. "They [foreign governments] try to challenge us, and if we fight them, they say, ‘human rights are being violated,’" Turkmen television reported Niyazov as saying. "They all have political purposes."

At the same meeting, Niyazov assailed Russia, claiming Moscow provided direct assistance to the three Turkmen opposition leaders – former Foreign Minister Boris Shikhmuradov, former Central Bank chief Khudaiberdy Orazov and former ambassador to Turkey Nurmuhammed Khanamov – accused of conspiring to kill the Turkmen president. Many exiled opposition leaders have found refuge in Moscow in the years since Turkmenistan gained independence in 1991.

According to a report by the Moscow-based Memorial human rights group, Niyazov said the Russian government "gave apartments to Shikhmuradov, Orazov and Khanamov. When they are needed, they are taken out of their apartments and are used, but for the rest of the time they are laying low." Niyazov went on to say the reason why Russia cooperates with Turkmen opposition leaders is a desire to purchase Turkmen gas at per 1,000 cubic meters rather than at the current cost of per 1,000 cubic meters. "Our riches attract the attention of larger countries," Niyazov was quoted as saying in the Memorial report.

Opposition leaders have denied conspiring to kill Niyazov, and insist that Russia is not involved in their non-violent efforts to topple the Turkmen leader. A statement issued by the United Democratic Opposition of Turkmenistan characterized the assassination attempt as a "provocation organized by Saparmurat Niyazov himself."

So far, security agents have arrested dozens of Turkmen citizens, many of them relatives of the alleged conspirators. Memorial, citing information obtained by underground human rights activists in Turkmenistan, says Niyazov is broadening the scope of his clampdown.

Government officials have ordered schools in Ashgabat to submit information about students to the Ministry for National Security, Memorial said. The government reportedly maintains that it seeks to identify potential students to attend three special Russian-language schools now being planned. But human rights sources told Memorial that the chief aim of this exercise is to use school records to uncover parents who hold dual Turkmen-Russian citizenship. The government especially wants to "identify Russian citizens among those serving in government with the aim of subsequently firing them," the Memorial report stated.

"Especially troubling is the fact that this campaign has gained momentum at a time when anti-Russian rhetoric from official Ashgabat is getting stronger," Memorial added.

Given Niyazov’s recent condemnations, Russian officials are disinclined to cooperate with Ashgabat on the assassination investigation and related issues. For instance, Memorial activists say they have received information that Moscow is willing to reconsider the planned extradition of Murad Garabayev – a former deputy chief of the Turkmen Central Bank, and a dual Turkmen-Russian national. Garabayev is wanted in Turkmenistan for alleged financial improprieties. After more than a month of refusing to hear Garabayev’s appeal, Memorial activists say a Moscow City Court now appears willing to hear the case on "an expedited basis."

In an interview with the Prima news agency November 30, Shikhmuradov contended that Niyazov’s reaction to the assassination attempt is an indicator that the president’s cult of personality rested on a shaky foundation. "He always talks about how he is not afraid of us [the united opposition movement], but at the same time, he always tries to blame us for all his failures and mistakes."

"Niyazov has understood that the situation is slipping from his control and has started to look for alternative ways to saving his vulnerable position," Shikhmuradov said. /// Eurasia Net, 4 Dec

Why Putin Is Allowed And Niyazov Is Not?

Sensational news about an assassination attempt on Turkmen dictator Saparmurat Niyazov have stirred up the whole new strata of political problems in today’s world. To all appearances, the cheap farce performed by Turkmenbashi the Great on the streets of Ashkhabad will have some
long-term consequences.

On Monday, Niyazov’s cortege was shot at from a KAMAZ lorry near Olympic Stadium on Turkmenbashi Avenue in Ashkhabad. Niyazov himself is safe and sound, but several of those who accompanied him, are wounded, one of
them appears to be in a serious condition. Wittingly hopeless machine-gun fire at armoured president’s limousine demonstrates that the assassins’ intentions were, more than likely, not serious. Niyazov’s prompt reaction accusing the opposition according to today’s trend, of terrorism, is another argument in favour of the assumption that the
attempt has been staged. On the same day before any investigation had taken place, Niyazov named the organisers of the attempt on his life:
former foreign minister Boris Shikhmuradov, former head of the Centrobank Khudaiberdy Orasov, former ambassador of Turkmeniya in Turkey Nurmukhamed Khanamov, former deputy minister for agriculture Saparmurat Iklymov. They all live abroad, in different countries, criticise Niyazov’s regime and are unreachable for the Turkmen security services.
All Niyazov’s opposition turns out to be abroad, as the very existence of it in Turkmeniya is impossible, except perhaps in prisons and camps.
Meanwhile, the existence of the opposition, even abroad, is unbearable for Turkmenbashi’s dictatorship. To do away with it, with all the eastern wisdom and soviet unsophistication (he used to be the first secretary of Turkmen Communist Party Central Committee), he decided to jump on the footboard of a tram going by named "Fight Against International Terrorism".
Having arrested 16 people suspected of organising the assassination attempt (according to unofficial sources up to 100), Niyazov announced that the attempt on his life was the doing of the international terrorists longing to destabilise situation in Turkmenia.
Fight against terrorism has become the trump card in the hands of the most diverse of politicians. Who would dare object to the fight against terror and terrorists? So, all they have to do is point out the terrorists and how terribly dangerous they are, and convince the rest of the world. Evidently, Turkmen dictator’s counter-terrorist deed was inspired by the image of American president George Bush praising his "friend Vladimir" for all the cruelty and adherence to principles with which Mr. Putin suffocated over 150 of his compatriots during Moscow theatre siege. So if Putin manages to win the bargain for handing in Zakaev, Yandarbiev and other leaders of Chechen resistance, having sacrificed so many innosent souls to counter-terrorism, then why Niyasov would not want to try something similar? He is not risking a lot (bodyguards’ lives and health don’t count), and maybe Turkmeniya too might join the ranks of international terrorism fighters and receive political support, modest investments and hand-cuffed opposition leaders with tickets to Ashkhabad from the West. Why not? The US manage to denounce dictatorships in Iraq or North Korea and at the same time close their eyes on homicide in Chechnya or human rights abuses in Uzbekistan.
Maybe for some "higher" reasons of fighting "the axis of evil" they might form a light friendship with Turkmen dictator too? But if not the US, then Russia that is still close to its communist past, will definitely agree to help Niyasov the counter-terrorist.
The recipe for how to get a licence for arbitrary rule from the West is rather clear. Soon there will be a long queue at the cherished window.
It will be funny, when in the end of it, somewhere between Fidel Castro and Kim Jong Il we shall also see Osama bin Laden demanding help from the West to fight international terrorism, which destabilises situation inside Al Qaeda. /// Alexander PODRABINEK, 29 Nov, Prima News, Moscow

Izvestiya Quizzes Turkmen Oppositionist on Nyyazow Attack

Moscow, 5 Dec—[Interview with Saparmyrat Yklymow, former Turkmenistani first deputy agriculture minister, by Gennadiy Charodeyev; date, place not given: "Former Turkmenistani First Deputy Agriculture Minister Saparmyrat Yklymow: Attack on Nyyazow Organized by Turkmenistani Special Services" -- taken from HTML version of source provided by ISP; first paragraph is introduction]

The United States yesterday accused the Turkmenistani authorities of an "obvious violation of their commitments within the framework of international law." The Americans are concerned at the "mass arrests" of local inhabitants and the detention of US citizen Leonid Komarovskiy. That is how the Turkmenistani leadership is investigating the recent attack on the country's leader Saparmyrat Nyyazow. "I repent. I very much repent. Execute me. I am ready for this," this confession by Turkmenistani businessman Guvanch Jumayev was shown on local television. The Turkmenistani authorities have declared Dzhumayev the "main perpetrator" of the attack on the president's convoy. In the thirties the NKVD [People's Commissariat for Internal Affairs] also tried to secure similar confessions from the "enemies of the people." Only there was no television at the time and Nyyazow does have television. Ashgabat has already managed to accuse Russia of "sponsoring terrorism." One of the main "conspirators" -- according to the Turkmenistani Prosecutor's Office -- is the republic's former first deputy agriculture minister Saparmyrat Yklymow. Yesterday he answered questions from your Izvestiya correspondent Gennadiy Charodeyev.

[Charodeyev] Where were you at the time of the attack on Nyyazow?

[Yklymow] I was at home in Sweden working on the Internet. I unexpectedly came across agency reports that unknown persons had attacked the president's motorcade in Ashgabat. Then came a wave of reports from all over containing conjecture and rumor. I was named as the person who organized the shooting up of the motorcade. However, Nyyazow has already placed me at the head of an antipresidential conspiracy on three occasions.

[Charodeyev] Why did Nyyazow choose you as a target?

[Yklymow] He spends all his time seeking enemies. This helps him strengthen his own authoritarian power. He ascribes to me personally the "appropriation of state funds on a particularly large-scale." This is an absolute lie, there is no proof against me. Fearing repression, I was forced to flee abroad.

[Charodeyev] Do you have anything to do with the attack on the Turkmenbasy?

[Yklymow] I am a Swedish subject, I have been given political asylum here. I hate the Nyyazow regime. But I have nothing to do with the armed attack on his motorcade. Until recent events I was not even a member of any opposition group. Never mind armed groups. But now I am forced to move into active opposition to defend my name and rid my homeland of the tyrant.

[Charodeyev] Who, in your opinion, could have attacked Nyyazow?

[Yklymow] Nyyazow has seen in this attack first the "hand of Moscow" and then "US treachery." In actual fact the "act of international terrorism" was organized and carried out on the orders of Nyyazow by the Turkmenistani special services. Few people are aware that my daughter lives five steps away from the scene of the attack. They specially staged the attack on the motorcade near my house and, what is more, as it is emerging, using a vehicle that once belonged to my brother -- the businessman Parakhat Yklymow, who is currently forced to live abroad. Some 107 members of the Yklymow family have been arrested on Nyyazow's orders. My daughter is also among the hostages. I do not know whether they are alive or whether lawyers are working with them. I do know though that, according to authorities, all those suspected of involvement in organizing the attack "will stay in jail forever."

[Charodeyev] It is being said that your seriously ill mother has also suffered.

[Yklymow] Mom remained in Ashgabat. She is 75 years old and has 100 grandchildren. She is very sick -- she is bedridden. After my daughter's apartment was searched, mom was literally thrown out onto the street. She was rescued by neighbors...

[Charodeyev] What can you say about the Nyyazow regime?

[Yklymow] Your heart bleeds when you hear how Turkmens, all citizens of my country are taunted. Nyyazow is an authoritarian ruler, a dictator. He is responsible not only for people's lives and destiny but also, as the world recently found out, the snow and the rain, winter and summer. He is an illegitimate president. During the Soviet era Nyyazow spent a long time working in Moscow on the CPSU Central Committee apparatus. Under our Constitution only a citizen who has been permanently resident on Turkmenistani territory for 10 years can become president. There are also age restrictions. It also clearly stated that the president can serve a maximum of two terms. But all these phrases were expunged from the fundamental law on orders of the Turkmenbasy. Not to mention the fact that the results of all three elections in which Nyyazow has taken part were falsified. After this he declared himself to be a prophet!

[Charodeyev] But certain bodies say that there is a stable political situation in Turkmenistan today and the population is showing no discontent with the existing order...

[Yklymow] In actual fact the economy has been devastated, human rights are being violated, and the Turkmens have been reduced to a semi-impoverished existence. Hatred of the dictator is growing in society. The bulk of young people are drug addicts. Any dissent is subject to persecution. Nyyazow jails 15,000-20,000 people a year. You get the impression that the "Son of the Great Turkmen Revolution" -- the Turkmenbasy -- has been zombifying and intimidating the population throughout his 10-year rule. It has reached the point where five-year-old children swear loyalty to the presidential regime! Nyyazow is mentally ill.

[Charodeyev] What solution do you see to the situation?

[Yklymow] We have accepted Nyyazow's challenge. We have now begun consultations with lawyers, who will take our case to the International Criminal Court. Nyyazow must be put on trial like Milosevic. /// Izvestiya, Moscow

Exiled Turkmen official denies plots assassination

STOCKHOLM, 6 Dec—Sapar Yklymov, an exiled Turkmen official, denied on Friday he was involved in the failed attempt to kill Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov and said he was ready to travel to Turkmenistan to face trial.

"I categorically deny these charges. The court should decide if I was involved or not," Yklymov, a former Turkmen deputy agriculture minister, told Reuters by telephone from his home in Umeo in northern Sweden.

Yklymov wrote on Friday to the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), of which Turkmenistan is a member, asking for guarantees for his personal safety should he return to Turkmenistan.

Turkmenistan's prosecutor general named Yklymov this week as one of the alleged ringleaders of a criminal gang that tried to assassinate Niyazov, who has ruled the gas-rich Central Asian state since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 and has developed a huge personality cult.

"I never concealed my intentions to restore constitutional order in the republic and remove Niyazov from power," Yklymov said earlier in a letter published on a Turkmen opposition website

"But I may swear under oath that I never called for his removal by force," he said.

Niyazov's motorcade was raked by machinegun fire on November 25, but no one was hurt. Niyazov is president for life and has almost unlimited power.

Yklymov, 50, was deputy agriculture minister from 1992 until 1994, when he was sacked and later accused of theft. He has lived in Umeo, 640 km (400 miles) north of Stockholm, since 1997 and was granted Swedish citizenship this year.

He told Reuters he was no longer involved in active politics and worked as a private consultant. He declined to elaborate.

Three other former top Turkmen officials have also been accused of involvement in the attack on Niyazov. Yklymov said more than 100 of his relatives in Turkmenistan were arrested after the assassination bid. /// Reuters

Azerbaijan angered over Turkmen assassination attempt accusations

Text of Vusala report by Azerbaijani newspaper Sarq on 7 December entitled "Azerbaijan is accused of provocation against Turkmenbashy". Subhead "Novruz Mammadov: Official Baku does not understand why its envoy has been summoned to the Foreign Ministry"

The Baku government is displeased that Azerbaijan stands accused of involvement in an assassination attempt against Turkmen President Saparmyrat Nyyazow.

Official Baku does not understand why the Azerbaijani envoy was summoned to the Turkmen Foreign Ministry, the head of the foreign relations department of the Azerbaijani Presidential Executive Staff, Novruz Mammadov, has told a Sarq correspondent. He said that Turkmenistan's accusations that Azerbaijan or Georgia had granted visas to people involved in the assassination attempt were groundless and added that Turkmenistan neither had an embassy nor consulate in Azerbaijan. In view of this, how could Azerbaijan have given visas to people wishing to travel abroad, he said. The presidential aid also said that official Baku would not react to this issue as Turkmenbashy Saparmyrat Nyyazow was constantly making such groundless accusations against neighbouring countries. /// Sarq, Baku

Turkmen president thanks for messages of support after assassination attempt

Ashgabat, 6 Dec—Today, when all Turkmen people, like other Muslims of the world, are celebrating one of the main Islamic holidays, Oraza bayram [Id al-Fitr, end of the month of Ramadan and the fasting period], about 10,000 believers gathered at the Ar Togrul Gazy main mosque in the capital in the early morning.

[Passage omitted: people prayed in and near the mosque]

In their prayers they especially lauded the Most High for having protected from traitors' treachery the nation's leader, Serdar [Saparmyrat Nyyazow], who is leading the Turkmen people along the path of transformation towards the genuine triumph of freedom and spirit.

As was reported, before the holiday Saparmyrat Turkmenbasy met top officials of the Council for Religious Affairs, and he asked them to convey his gratitude to all those who had addressed words of support and reassurance to him at the moment. Serdar expressed the confidence that the accident must be a lesson to the people of Turkmenistan and further consolidate the people. Nobody will hamper us as we go along the chosen way, the president stressed, nobody is capable of preventing Turkmens from deciding their fate. /// Turkmen Press