Turkmenistan. The February presidential election was a game for the galleries. President Gurbanguli Berdimuchammedov’s victory was given in advance. Formally, challengers were given the chance to stand in the election, but the opposition in exile did not trust Berdimuchammedov, as most leading opposition politicians had been sentenced to prison in their absence. Of the seven candidates who stood next to the president, several expressed his support for him.
Berdimuchammedov, who at his own request is called the Protector, received, according to the regime’s election commission, more than 97% of the vote. The Commission called the election open, while London-based think tank Chatham House described it as a democratic scam and an example of false democracy. The turnout was officially stated at just over 96%.
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The election campaign was conducted in a closed society where all media were completely controlled by the regime. According to Reporters Without Borders, Turkmenistan was almost the worst in the world in terms of freedom of the press, only Eritrea and North Korea were worse. An unknown number of journalists and human rights activists were imprisoned.
For the first time since Turkmenistan left the Soviet Union, the International Red Cross Committee was allowed to visit a prison in the country. Human rights organizations have repeatedly reported severe abuses and abuses in Turkmenist prisons.
In July, bread prices suddenly tripled to the equivalent of SEK 1.40 for a loaf. The price of flour doubled. No official explanation was given, but the price increases were assumed to be associated with decreasing harvests and the decision in 2010 to start exporting wheat. There are no reliable figures on the salaries of Turkmenistanis, but an average monthly salary is estimated to be approximately SEK 1,300.
According to countryaah, the population of Turkmenistan in 2012 was 5,565,176, ranking number 115 in the world. The population growth rate was 1.810% yearly, and the population density was 11.8428 people per km2.
Former Soviet socialist republic, Turkmenistan proclaimed its independence on 27 October 1991 and on 21 December of the same year signed, together with ten other former republics of the USSR, the declaration of Alma-Ata which formally established the Community of Independent States (CIS). On 2 March 1992 the Republic of Turkmenistan was admitted to the UN. Among the various Soviet republics of Central Asia, Turkmenistan is undoubtedly the most homogeneous and the least artificial. The population (4.358.000 residents according to a 1994 estimate; density 9.7 residents / km 2, annual growth coefficient in the period 1985-92: 2.5%) is composed for 72% by Turkmen, for the 9.5% from Russians, 9% from Uzbeks. The capital, Ašgabat, had 416,000 residents. in 1991.
Agriculture maintains a prominent position in the country’s economy (47.7% of GDP and 44.2% of the workforce in 1992), even if it is far from ensuring food self-sufficiency. The agricultural system is in fact strongly oriented towards the intensive monoculture of cotton, made possible by the massive diffusion of irrigation, even in desert areas (the Karakum desert covers 90% of the republic’s territory). In recent years, however, the excessive development of irrigation schemes and the increasing intensification of commercial cotton cultivation have led to serious forms of environmental impact. In particular, the Amu Darja River, which marks the border with Uzbekistan and which feeds what remains of the Aral Sea, has been subjected to excessive withdrawals for irrigation needs; the water issue has therefore become a source of potential conflict with the neighboring state. The contribution of the breeding is important, also destined to the production of skins (astrachan) and wool (karakul).
Turkmenistan is richly endowed with energy sources and mineral resources, in particular natural gas and oil (the reserves of which are estimated at 10-15,000 billion m 3and 6.3 billion t respectively). Turkmenistan is the second largest natural gas producer in the Commonwealth of Independent States and a major exporter of both hydrocarbons and electricity produced in thermoelectric power stations located within the country’s borders.
This explains the growing attention with which Turkmenistan looks to Iran, a country through which the easiest and shortest way passes to export gas to the West, avoiding crossing the Caspian Sea. Iran, which has a good network of roads, railways and ports, represents the natural outlet of the Turkmenistan, whose capital has recently been connected to the Iranian railway network. Iran is also viewed as a possible protector in the long term, in the event that the disputes with Uzbekistan should escalate.
The industrial sector (38% of GDP, 20% of employment in 1992) is mainly associated with the extraction and treatment of mineral resources (primarily natural gas and oil), with the generation of energy and the processing of cotton.. Even before the dissolution of the USSR, Turkmenistan, one of the poorest republics of the Union, had gone through a period of economic decline, which was subsequently worsened by the effect of the negative repercussions on the industrial sector of the collapse of the commercial system that interconnected the republics. of the USSR. However, in 1991 and 1992 the decline was relatively less than that of many other republics of the former USSR, thanks above all to the expansion of two driving sectors of the economy: the energy and cotton industry. There was a significant economic recovery in 1993, largely attributable to sustained exports of natural gas. To attract foreign investment, the government has announced plans to set up seven industrial export free zones.