Turkmens to mark ‘era of happiness’

Mar 30, 2012, 2:08 PM

Associated Press

ASHGABAT, Turkmenistan (AP) – Turkmenistan’s authoritarian president is calling it a week of celebrations, but for some it might seem more like basic training, especially the march up the five-mile (eight-kilometer) concrete staircase.

The series of public shows and sports events will be held during the first week of April to mark the “era of power and happiness” recently announced by President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov, state newspaper Neutral Turkmenistan reported Friday.

Since independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, Turkmenistan has become known for its grandiose authoritarianism, including the elaborate cult of personality that surrounded the late President Saparmurat Niyazov.

Berdymukhamedov has dismantled much of the personality cult since taking power after Niyazov’s 2006 death, but the overblown and idiosyncratic nature of the upcoming festivities echo Niyazov’s style.

The first week of April is traditionally devoted to public events celebrating physical well-being. The period has now been dubbed the “Week of Health and Happiness” and will include the staging of plays called “The Inspirational Era of Happiness” and “The Era of Power is Illuminated by Happiness.”

Turkmenistan doesn’t suffer problems like the United States, where two out of every three adults is overweight or obese. But the newspaper quoted Berdymukhamedov as saying in a Cabinet meeting Thursday that all employees in government offices and state companies will be expected to spend the week indulging in physical exercise.

The highlight of the week is expected to be the traditional mass march up the Walk of Health _ an eight-kilometer (five-mile) concrete staircase built into mountains near the capital.

While insisting on making top public officials complete the Walk of Health once a year, Niyazov was notable for his preference for less strenuous pleasures. He died of heart failure in December 2006, aged 66.

Niyazov drew widespread criticism in 2005 by closing provincial hospitals, declaring them an unnecessary extravagance. The policy was implemented while Berdymukhamedov was then serving as health minister.

Berdymukhamedov reversed that policy as president and actively promoted the building of several hospitals all over the country.

In an apparent effort to distance himself from Niyazov’s time in office, which was known officially as “The Golden Era,” Berdymukhamedov announced an “Era of Great Renaissance.” That has now given way to the current “Era of Power and Happiness.”

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

World News

(Photo by John Phillips/Getty Images for BoF VOICES)...
Associated Press

Vivienne Westwood, influential fashion maverick, dies at 81

Vivienne Westwood, an influential fashion maverick who played a key role in the punk movement, died Thursday at 81.
1 month ago
FILE - British Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks during his first Cabinet meeting flanked by his ...
Associated Press

Rishi Sunak: UK’s ex-Treasury chief gets his shot at PM job

LONDON (AP) — Rishi Sunak ran for Britain’s top job and lost. Then he got another shot — and the chance to say “I told you so.” The former U.K. Treasury chief was runner-up to Liz Truss in the contest to replace the scandal-plagued Boris Johnson as Conservative Party leader and prime minister. But Truss […]
3 months ago
Britain's Prime Minister Liz Truss addresses the media in Downing Street in London, Thursday, Oct. ...
Associated Press

Truss quits, but UK’s political and economic turmoil persist

LONDON (AP) — British Prime Minister Liz Truss quit Thursday after a tumultuous and historically brief term marred by economic policies that roiled financial markets and a rebellion in her political party that obliterated her authority. After just 45 days in office, Truss became the third Conservative prime minister to be toppled in as many […]
4 months ago
People receive medical treatment at the scene of Russian shelling, in Kyiv, Ukraine, Monday, Oct. 1...
Associated Press

Russia unleashes biggest attacks in Ukraine in months

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Russia retaliated Monday for an attack on a critical bridge by unleashing its most widespread strikes against Ukraine in months, a lethal barrage that smashed civilian targets, knocked out power and water, shattered buildings and killed at least 14 people. Ukraine’s Emergency Service said nearly 100 people were wounded in the […]
4 months ago
This illustration made available by Johns Hopkins APL and NASA depicts NASA's DART probe, upper rig...
Associated Press

NASA spacecraft smashes into asteroid for defense test

A NASA spacecraft rammed an asteroid at blistering speed Monday in an unprecedented dress rehearsal for the day a killer rock menaces Earth.
4 months ago
Associated Press

At least 9 killed as Iran protests over woman’s death spread

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Clashes between Iranian security forces and protesters angry over the death of a 22-year-old woman in police custody have killed at least nine people since the violence erupted over the weekend, according to a tally Thursday by The Associated Press. The scope of Iran’s ongoing unrest, the worst in […]
4 months ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Prep the plumbing in your home just in time for the holidays

With the holidays approaching, it's important to know when your home is in need of heating and plumbing updates before more guests start to come around.
...
Quantum Fiber

Stream 4K and more with powerful, high-speed fiber internet

Picking which streaming services to subscribe to are difficult choices, and there is no room for internet that cannot handle increased demands.
...
Quantum Fiber

How high-speed fiber internet can improve everyday life

Quantum Fiber supplies unlimited data with speeds up to 940 mbps, enough to share 4K videos with coworkers 20 times faster than a cable.
Turkmens to mark ‘era of happiness’