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When Saparmurat Niyazov died in 2006 he had spent a third of his life at the top of the Turkmen state. He dressed in undistinguished suits, particularly disappointing given the heritage of traditional dress he could draw on:

He did however make a notable contribution to architecture. Just look at all the trees and lampposts, rather like someone’s gone wild dragging and dropping on the Sims:

His gold statue, which adorns the Neutrality Arch in the capital, rotates twenty-four hours a day so as to always face the sun (at some point in the day Turkmenistan must be opposite the sun, so does he look down his oesophagus and out his own arsehole?)

He also added more than his share to the poetic canon, penning the immortal lines “You are a lion more than a lion, just find a battle field for you/Let your cream boil over always, never feel the lack of it/You are the Türkmen, with Garagum, so many minerals in its core”

Niyazov is credited with a list of absurd decrees, banning beards, lip-syncing, newsreaders from wearing make-up, gold teeth, owning more than one dog or cat, and, most bizarrely, smoking in public places!


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