Return of the Turkmenbashi

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Regular readers will know that I have long admired the ridiculous inspirational twirling statue of the Turkmenbashi, the late and not exactly beloved ruler of Turkmenistan. As you may recall, shortly after his death in 2006 the former dentist and current President for Life of Turkmenistan, Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov, removed the Arch of Neutrality upon which the statue rotated and shipped the monstrosity to the suburbs. Eventually he removed the statue altogether.

This month, and much to the disgust of a good portion of the citizenry of Turkmenistan, Berdymukhammedov unveiled the statue in its new resting place, the Monument of Neutrality. Although tragically it no longer rotates so the Turkmenbashi always faces the sun, at 312 ft tall the new Monument of Neutrality is nearly 100 ft taller than the old Arch of Neutrality.

While most citizens are not thrilled to see a return of the ludicrous golden statue of the Turkmenbashi, the website Transmission, in their article Golden Turkmenbashi Finds New Home, reports on one Turkmen who sees a benefit to it:
At least one Turkmen observer, however, sees a silver lining around this gilded eyesore. "This monument provokes great interest among tourists who come to Turkmenistan," notes a travel agent based in Asghabat. "For foreign tourists, this is a monument of dictatorship and despotic willfulness. But for us, this is an embarrassment and unfortunately we get popularity with our absurd architectural excesses."