Turkmen immortalise president's father

Turkmenistan's parliament has added to the personality cult surrounding President Saparmurat Niyazov by dedicating this year to the president's deceased father.

    Niyazov (C) has declared himself president for life

    The parliament took the decision in order to "immortalise the sacred image and bright memory" of Atamurat Niyazov, who is officially said to have died in fighting in southern Russia during World War II, the Neitralny Turkmenistan newspaper said on Saturday. 

    Atamurat Niyazov showed "unlimited love for his country" and "served selflessly to ensure the survival of current and future generations", added the paper. 

    Saparmurat Niyazov, 64, has ruled this remote former Soviet republic with an iron hand since the Soviet Union's collapse in 1991 and was declared president-for-life and Turkmenbashi (father of all Turkmen) in 1999. 

    Golden statues and portraits of the president can be found on almost every street in the country and towns and regions are named after him and his parents. 

    Western institutions have criticised the Turkmen president for ruthlessly cracking down on dissidents.



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