Turkmenistan’southward equestrian-mad leader has been honoured with a huge monument in the upper-case letter city, featuring his likeness atop a gilded horse.

Cast in bronze and covered in 24-carat aureate leaf, the statue of Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov soars over 20 metres from the ground and is perched on an outcrop of white marble cliff.

Berdymukhamedov, who has run the country since 2006 and is accused of presiding over one of the most pervasive personality cults in the earth, is widely known every bit Arkadag, or the patron.

The composition was unveiled in Ashgabat on Mon, to cheers of “Glory to Arkadag!” from assembled students, as white doves and balloons were released into the heaven, Reuters reported.

Officially, the monument was deputed afterward public clamour.

“My main goal is to serve the people and the motherland. Then, I volition listen to the opinion of the people and do as they cull,” said Berdymukhamedov in 2014, in response to the proposal to honour him with a statue.

His prototype is ubiquitous in the desert nation, with huge portraits adorning billboards and buildings beyond the country. The gilt statue, still, recalls the reign of his predecessor, Saparmurat Niyazov, who was known as Turkmenbashi, or leader of all the Turkmens.

Niyazov ensured that gas-rich Turkmenistan remained 1 of the nigh isolated countries in the world, ensuring no gratuitous media, allowing little foreign travel and enacting a serial of decrees that renamed the days of the week and months of the yr later himself and members of his family. Hospitals exterior the capital were airtight, opera and the circus were both banned, and all schools and universities had mandatory classes for studying the Ruhnama, Niyazov’due south book. His ministers were forced to perform a gruelling annual “walk of wellness” through the capital. Niyazov travelled by helicopter and met them at the finishing line.

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Berdymukhamedov, who was formerly a dentist and so became Niyazov’s wellness minister, presided over a very gradual liberalisation when he start came to power later on Niyazov’s decease, reversing some of the tardily president’southward more eccentric decrees.

In time, however, Berdymukhamedov built up a personality cult that now rivals that of his predecessor.

Niyazov famously had a gilded statue of himself erected in the heart of Ashgabat that rotated to confront the dominicus throughout the day. When Berdymukhamedov took over, the monument was moved to the outskirts of the city.




The gold statue of Turkmenistan’s late dictator Saparmurat Niyazov on the top of a gigantic new monument later on being moved from fundamental Ashgabat to the outskirts of the city.
Photograph: Igor Sasin/AFP/Getty Images

At present, Berdymukhamedov has his ain gilt monument. In form, if not in execution, it recalls the Statuary Horseman, a monument Catherine the Great had built in St Petersburg to laurels Peter the Swell.

The Turkmen president is fond of equus caballus-riding and has promoted Turkmenistan’s famous Akhal-Teke brood. He has written a volume almost the horses and is oftentimes pictured on horseback or taking part in horse races.

In 2013, during celebrations to mark the Day of the Horse – an official holiday – Berdymukhamedov took a tumble shortly afterwards crossing the finishing line in a race he had won. Amid scenes of confusion, dozens of bodyguards rushed to him, and all those viewing the race in the stadium were searched to make sure they had no footage of the fall when leaving. Video of the fall made it out, though it was never mentioned on local goggle box.

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Turkmenistan’southward president falls off horse

Berdymukhamedov did not ride during this year’s equine day celebrations, which included a equus caballus beauty competition. He was, however, bestowed with the new honorary title of “People’s Equus caballus Breeder”.

At the issue, Berdymukhamedov compared Turkmenistan itself to a horse.

“Our state is moving forrad with the speed of an Akhal-Teke stallion and I telephone call on yous all to move forward and only forrard,” he said.

Source: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/may/25/horse-turkmenistan-president-statute-berdymukhamedov