Turkmenistan. Visit Countryaah official website to get information about the capital city of Turkmenistan. President Saparmurat Nijazov signed a decree on the moratorium on the death penalty in January. It was then reported that about 700 people the previous year had been convicted of arch-robbery, the vast majority for drug offenses. It was unclear how many had been executed. At the end of the year, a law on definitive abolition of the death penalty was signed.
During the year it became clear that a pipeline will be built for gas exports from Turkmenistan through the Caspian Sea and via Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey to the Mediterranean port of Ceyhan. At the OSCE summit in Istanbul in November, agreements were signed between the four countries. The decision is a great economic and political success for Turkmenistan. The gas flow forecast is 30 billion cubic meters per year, and close to half will go to the European market. The plans are expected to be completed by the end of 2002, and the construction is expected to cost SEK 17 billion. An American consortium will be responsible for the construction. But despite the country’s gas and oil wealth, the majority of the population is poor with an average monthly income of about SEK 150.
Turkmenistan is a member of the CIS but wants to pursue a strict neutrality policy. Therefore, during the year, the country withdrew from a border agreement with the Russian Federation and introduced visa requirements for citizens of the CIS countries.
The country’s highest representative body, the People’s Council, met in December to discuss making Nijazov president for life. He had then ruled the country for 14 years, held almost single power and surrounded himself with an extensive cult of people. However, Nijazov himself rejected the proposal for a lifetime mandate.
The OSCE nevertheless strongly criticized the lack of democracy in Turkmenistan and noted that it was not meaningful to send observers to the parliamentary elections in December.
All parties were banned except President Nijazov’s Democratic Party, but some independent candidates took part in the election. According to official data, 95% of eligible voters voted. But it was reported that election officials went with ballots to the homes and tried to persuade people to vote. The regime also distributed gifts to first-time voters to attract them to the polling stations.