New Turkmenbashi (literally ‘head of Turkmen’, here I mean head of Turkmen nation, namely president) Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov has to do a lot to correct mistakes of his predecessor. By doing so, he is shaping a new, positive image for himself and Turkmenistan in general.
The picture of Central Asian evils in the 90s was as follows: Turkmenistan – evil number one; Uzbekistan – evil number two; the rest are more or less evils and half evils, showing a considerable amount of hope. The evils picture in Central Asia is changing: former evil-number-one Turkmenistan, according to limited sources, is making small steps away from isolationism towards liberalisation. Kyrgyz and Tajik are supported in their struggle with many social and economic problems. Kazakhstan enjoys a lot of interest from the world community, and economic boom. Uzbekistan now has to take the evil-number-one role, and it is succeeding in it, by moving towards further isolation, and authoritarianism.
Media is reporting more and more positive changes in Turkmenistan, even if those are not super big changes, but anyway changes in the right direction, providing some room for hope.
Turkmen president abolished a number of restrictions like police-checkpoints for passport control on the highways. His recent decree abolishes the regulation requiring a special permission from the Ministry of Interior to visit border towns.
Interfax reported that this decree would “improve the Turkmen population’s financial welfare and allow people travel freely in all regions of the country”.
But why would one have restrictions to travel to border areas?