Turkmenistan Builds New $1.5 Billion Metropolis, Far Eliminated From Grinding Poverty 


ALMATY – Turkmenistan, one of many world’s most repressive and remoted international locations, is suffering from widespread poverty.

However the authorities are set to unveil a newly constructed $1.5 billion metropolis, a venture that officers declare “displays the speedy socioeconomic improvement” within the Central Asian nation.

The brand new metropolis — Arkadag, or Protector — attracts its title from the formal title of Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov, the authoritarian chief who stepped down in March after ruling the nation with an iron fist for over 15 years.

Berdymukhammedov handed energy to his son, Serdar, in a managed election. However the 65-year-old stays a prime official because the chairman of the higher home of parliament and continues to wield appreciable affect.

Situated round 30 kilometers southwest of the capital Ashgabat, Arkadag will function the capital of Akhal Province, which is located alongside the border with Iran and Afghanistan.

Building of the venture started in 2019, the identical 12 months that Serdar Berdymukhammedov’s was appointed as governor of Akhal.

Over the course of the venture, the youthful Bedymukhammedov turned the minister of trade and development supplies and deputy chairman of the cupboard earlier than succeeding his father as president.

In April, Serdar Berdymukhammedov known as for a “public dialogue” to discover a title for the brand new metropolis.

Turkmen President Serdar Berdymukhammedov (file photograph)

Positive sufficient, the speaker of Turkmenistan’s decrease home of parliament duly introduced the town’s title on December 21, claiming that “the needs of residents of all areas” and the “ideas of public organizations” had been taken into consideration.

However sources informed RFE/RL’s Turkmen Service in Could that the title was already determined.

Turkmenistan watchers scoff on the notion that the city-naming was an train in democracy.

“There isn’t a hint of a public marketing campaign. How did they ask the opinion of individuals in these areas the place there is no such thing as a Web, the place even cell penetration is low?” requested Luca Anceschi, professor of Eurasian Research on the College of Glasgow. “The title of the town is an phantasm. The town itself is an phantasm.”

‘Far Away From Meals Queues’

Arkadag doesn’t resemble most cities, and even provincial capitals, in Turkmenistan.

Footage proven on state media suggests it should have extra in widespread with central Ashgabat, the place billions of {dollars} generated from gasoline exports have funded the development of ostentatious buildings with white marble facades at the same time as different components of the nation bear the brunt of a protracted financial disaster.

Arkadag has been hailed by Turkmen authorities as a “good metropolis,” which is able to host a hippodrome, a youngsters’s rehabilitation middle named after the previous president, and a statue of the ex-leader. One of many central streets within the metropolis might be named after the patriarch’s favourite horse, Akhan.

The town is designed to accommodate greater than 12,000 households.

Ruslan Myatiev, the editor of the Europe-based, exile-run Turkmen.Information web site, says Arkadag will accommodate members of the elite and people with ties to the ruling Berdymukhammedov household.

Myatiev stated this suits the overall sample of the Berdymukhammedovs holding members of their prolonged clan separate from the overall inhabitants and “distant from meals queues” which have turn out to be widespread amid rising poverty and meals shortages.

Turkmen wait in line to buy groceries at a food store. (file photo)

Turkmen wait in line to purchase groceries at a meals retailer. (file photograph)

“For the time being, the kin — a really broad time period that features even very distant kin — have occupied a variety of neighborhoods constructed with state cash in and round Ashgabat,” stated the journalist.

In distinction, “since about 2015 the overall inhabitants of Turkmenistan has been residing with no clear imaginative and prescient of tomorrow,” Myatiev added.

‘Devices Of Corruption’

Regardless of all proof on the contrary, Turkmen state propaganda has claimed a unending procession of financial successes.

An exception got here final 12 months when the elder Berdymukhammedov, then president, acknowledged that the state was struggling to repay its overseas collectors on time.

The truth is that the federal government can also be struggling to pay the salaries of public sector workers on time, together with the development employees constructing Arkadag, in response to a report by RFE/RL’s Turkmen Service in September.

Earlier this month, residents of some neighborhoods in Ashgabat informed RFE/RL that that they had been left with out water and heating throughout a chilly snap.

In November, RFE/RL’s Turkmen Service reported a pointy progress out there for secondhand garments and used home goods in Turkmenabat, the capital of japanese Lebap Province.

“While you go round to folks’s homes, you see that they’ve put up on the market half of their belongings simply to outlive, to purchase bread,” one Turkmenabat resident informed RFE/RL’s Turkmen Service.

Turkmenistan’s energy-dependent financial system took a nosedive after international oil and gasoline costs plunged in 2014 and Russia ceased imports in 2016.

Lately, international power costs have recovered, Russia has resumed shopping for some Turkmen gasoline, and prime shopper China within the first 9 months of this 12 months bought greater than $7 billion price of the gasoline, in response to Chinese language customs knowledge.

However that has not fueled an financial restoration in Turkmenistan, the place the state has prioritized spending on multibillion-dollar vainness tasks, regardless of power meals shortages and value hikes.

Widespread poverty, corruption, and unemployment have pressured hundreds of thousands of Turkmen to go away the nation in latest a long time.

“You could have a brand new metropolis in a rustic the place the inhabitants is shrinking, no matter official statistics declare. You could have a brand new airport that prices over $2 billion in a rustic that has no tourism and which is attempting to cease its residents from fleeing the nation,” stated Anceschi of the College of Glasgow.

The airport in Ashgabat (file photo)

The airport in Ashgabat (file photograph)

“The whole lot is backwards, however what we will be certain of, is that anyone is making an terrible lot of cash off these tasks. As a result of they’re devices of corruption,” he stated.

There may be little hope of a change in course. President Serdar Berdymukhammedov has pledged to “observe the course” set by his father.

The youthful Berdymukhammedov has solely had good issues to say about Arkadag, a venture that he has led.

“There are at the moment few international locations on this planet which might be constructing and commissioning a whole metropolis,” Berdymukhammedov stated in April. “This means the rising financial potential of the Motherland, the nice coaching of our specialists.”

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