The authorities of the Balkan region – the largest in Turkmenistan, and at the same time the least populous and largely inhabited by ethnic minorities – order that songs by former president Gurbanguly Berdimukhamedov be played at weddings. Owners and employees of wedding venues, restaurants and banquet halls receive appropriate instructions.
The authorities of the Balkan region in western Turkmenistan stated that the music of the current leader’s father is appropriate, while “Western” music should be radically limited, the Radio Svoboda website reported.
Formally, such an order has not been issued, but in the registry offices of the Balkan region, located on the Caspian Sea, future bride and groom are verbally informed that “wedding celebrations should be accompanied only by Turkmen music, and the wedding itself should take place in the Turkmen style.”
During the game, songs written by the former president, who ruled the country from 2006 to 2022, and then handed over power to his son, Serdar, must be played. Owners and employees of wedding venues, restaurants and banquet halls also receive appropriate instructions.
“Only Turkmen songs were played”
Berdimukhamedov senior, currently holding the newly created position of chairman of the People’s Council, in the past sang kitschy pop songs, gave concerts and appeared in music videos, the artistic value of which left much to be desired.
He also performed at concerts where he pretended to play musical instruments. The former leader is also the author of several dozen books, including a 14-volume work entitled “Medicinal Plants of Turkmenistan”, three-quarters of which is occupied by the Karakum Desert.
– Owners of wedding venues make sure that at least 80 percent of the songs are in Turkmen, an employee of one of such venues told Radio Swoboda on condition of anonymity. – At one recent wedding, Berdimukhamedov’s songs, each of which lasted seven minutes, had to be played twice by the DJ – he added.
– Only Turkmen songs were played and people were ordered to dance the Turkmen folk dance Kush Depti – said one resident of Turkmenbashi about a recent wedding where the bride and groom and most of the guests were not ethnic Turkmen. The name Turkmenbasha means “Chief of the Turkmen” in Turkmen, and the city was named in honor of Berdimukhamedov senior, who gave himself such a title.
– There were portraits of both Berdimukhamedovs hanging on the walls, as it is obligatory, and the leader gave speeches full of praise for the country’s president – added a resident of Turkmenbashi.
Turkmenistan struggles with poverty and corruption
The Balkan Oblast – the largest in Turkmenistan and at the same time the least populated, is largely inhabited by ethnic minorities whose representatives do not speak Turkmen.
Radio Swoboda reminds that there have been reports that Uzbeks are ordered to sing Turkmen songs and wear traditional Turkmen costumes during wedding celebrations.
Radio Swoboda tried to contact the regional authorities for comment, but received no response.
Established after the collapse of the USSR, Turkmenistan, located in Central Asia, has been considered one of the most oppressive countries in the world from the very beginning of its existence. Successive presidents suppress all forms of freedom of speech and civil liberties.
All mass media and all citizen activities are controlled by the government. There is no opposition in the country – all its representatives are either in prison or in exile. The country is struggling with poverty and corruption, and the authorities are doing a lot to prevent citizens from going abroad – even to… Russia – in search of a better life.
Main photo source: Shutterstock