If you read the posting here about Turkmenbashi, the late (dictator, persecutor and rampant, lunatic egotist) President of Turkmenistan, back in December, then you may be interested by today’s BBC article from Ashgabat. It seems that his successor, Kurbanguly Berdymukhamedov, could be an improvement (not hard, but certainly not inevitable). Despite pledging to build on his predecessor’s legacy, he has not completely followed his example – less pomp, no entourages, not so egotistical. Who knows – this could be a front. But it has to be one of the few situations where to be described (as he was by an Ashgabat resident) as “somehow much more Soviet” is actually a compliment and cause for a degree of optimism. Let’s hope… and pray, not least for the sake of the handful of Christians in the country who have had to meet in secret and in constant danger.
For useful background on Turkmenistan, go to the BBC Country Profile or CIA profile