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4 May, 2008 02:07

Taxi for Turkmenbashi! Former president’s statue heads south

The twelve-metre tall golden statue of Turkmenistan’s former President Saparmurat Niyazov is to be relocated from the centre of the capital Ashkhabad, due to an order from his successor Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov.

The monument tops the 75-metre tall Arc of Neutrality – an architectural structure in the form of a tripod which represents a Turkmen hearth.

The golden statue slowly rotates so that it constantly faces the sun.

The whole structure will now be moved to the south of the city.

The Arc of Neutrality was the main symbol of Niyazov’s personality cult. Since 1998 the monument to Saparmurat Niyazov, who adopted the name ‘Turkmenbashi’ meaning ‘leader of the Turkmen’, and who ruled the nation for more than 20 years, has been a prominent landmark in Ashkhabad.

After Niyazov’s death in December 2006, his portraits and statues have been disappearing from the capital's streets and from foyers of administrative buildings and hotels.

In addition, the month of January which had been renamed ‘Turkmenbashi’ in honour of Niyazov, has reverted to its original name.