A Golden Statue for Turkmenistan Leader’s Favorite Dog

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Some pet lovers purchase treats for his or her favourite animals. President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov of Turkmenistan has taken {that a} step additional, unveiling a 19-foot-tall sculpture of a golden-colored canine to honor his favourite breed, the Central Asian shepherd.

The monument to the canine, tail aloft and head held excessive, was erected on a pedestal on the middle of a site visitors circle within the capital, Ashbagat, the state information company of Turkmenistan stated, including that it mirrored the breed’s “pride and self-confidence.”

The statue was unveiled Wednesday in a ceremony full with exuberant singers and twirling dancers, clouds of coloured balloons, and a wraparound tv display screen on the statue’s base beaming out pictures of the canines — the breed is thought domestically as Alabai — in motion, in response to footage launched on YouTube by the state broadcaster Altyn Asyr.

An Alabai pet, held by a younger baby, additionally made an look as Mr. Berdymukhammedov, an autocrat who guidelines over one of many world’s most repressive governments, watched with evident delight.

Mr. Berdymukhammedov’s love for the Alabai, which has come to represent nationwide delight and energy, has lengthy been documented. Last yr, he launched a e book in regards to the breed, together with a poem he reportedly wrote throughout a cupboard assembly. At the e book’s launch, contributors sang songs in honor of the canine in a packed corridor.

The president’s son, Serdar Berdymukhammedov, extensively seen as a possible successor, is the chair of the Turkmen Alabai Association, which held its first worldwide assembly in August. The authorities stated this month that it was getting ready to appoint the canine for inclusion on UNESCO’s World Heritage record as a cultural asset.

The Alabai has historically been used for cover and to protect livestock, and might be discovered throughout Central Asia in international locations like Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.

The canine statue was unveiled as a part of a package deal of latest infrastructure in western Ashgabat, the state information company stated, which additionally included a number of high-rise residential buildings and a shopping mall.

Mr. Berdymukhammedov, a former dentist who grew to become president in a 2007 election that worldwide observers stated was rigged after the dying of the nation’s longtime dictator, Saparmurat Niyazov, has a aptitude for dramatic shows. He has propaganda movies boasting of his athletic prowess and navy talent — together with certainly one of him taking pictures a gun.

Dogs will not be the one animals which have captured his coronary heart: He additionally has an affinity for the Akhal-Teke horse, a Turkmen breed recognized for its bodily capabilities and golden sheen. That breed has already been memorialized; in 2015, the Turkmen chief unveiled a 69-foot-high gold statue of himself using an Akhal-Teke.

The opulent monuments stand in stark distinction with the on a regular basis lives of many in a rustic that is still impoverished regardless of wealthy reserves of pure fuel reserves that it largely exports to China.

Mr. Berdymukhammedov guidelines the nation, which gained independence from Soviet rule in 1991, with an autocratic hand, controlling all media and punishing unsanctioned types of spiritual and political expression.

Western human rights organizations are banned from Turkmenistan, and Human Rights Watch calls it “one of the most repressive and closed countries in the world.”

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