I learn the most interesting things by accident!
I was googling to work up some graphics based on the gags in http://dailycaller.com/2012/05/15/top-10-obama-ties-to-history/ and read some real eye-popping stuff about the first “President for Life” (read: Dictator) of Turkmenistan following its independence from the Soviet Union.
He “served” (read: imposed his personal eccentricities on) the Turkmen people from 1990 until his death in 2006. I’m thinking the list of this guy’s whackadoodle “accomplishments” makes Barry O seethe with envy.
1992: Saparmurat Atayevich Niyazov was elected the country’s first president. He ran unopposed.
1993: Niazov changed his title to Leader of all Turkmen.
1997: Forced by a heart ailment to give up smoking himself, he banned it in all public places and ordered all government employees to quit.
1998: He built a $12 million, 39-ft tall tripod topped with a gold-plated statue of himself that rotated so it always faced the sun. Located in the center of the capital and taller than anything nearby, it dominates the skyline. The panoramic viewing platform became a popular visitors’ attraction. (The statue was removed after Niyazov’s death.)
1999: All candidates for Parliament were hand-picked by Niyazov. Following elections, the new Parliament declared him President for Life.
2000: He revoked all Internet licenses except for the state-owned Turkmen Telecom.
2001: He shut down all Internet cafés and outlawed the circus, opera and ballet.
2002: After an alleged assassination attempt, he arrested thousands of suspected conspirators and members of their families. (Critics claim the government staged the attempt in order to crack down on mounting domestic and foreign political opposition.)
2004: He banned long hair and beards on men and fired 15,000 public health workers, including nurses, midwives, school health visitors and orderlies.
2005: He banned the use of lip syncing at public concerts and required live music (not recorded) at all celebrations, including state holidays and cultural events, t.v. broadcasts, even weddings. He also closed all libraries and hospitals outside the capital and replaced the physicians’ Hippocratic oath with one of allegiance to him personally.
2006: He discontinued pension payments to one-third of the country’s elderly and demanded all pensions paid during the prior two years be paid back to the state.
declared that the dates of all professional holidays would be specified by his decree only and renamed various months and days of the week after Turkmen heroes, poets, historical events, family members, himself and even his book;
banished dogs from the capital because he didn’t like their smell, added a chorus to the national anthem about himself, and banned news reporters and anchors from wearing make-up on television;
outlawed gold teeth and told the populace to chew on bones to strengthen their teeth so they wouldn’t fall out: “I watched young dogs when I was young. They were given bones to gnaw to strengthen their teeth. Those of you whose teeth have fallen out did not chew on bones. This is my advice.”
Most of the stuff he did was abolished by his successor; his invention of “Melon Day” (a new August harvest festival) survived.