Turkmenistan established a new medal and returned the “people’s council”: what does the dictatorial regime achieve?

In Turkmenistan, on October 1, 2023, a new state award was established – the Arkadag medal. To this end, on the eve of September 30, deputies of the Mejlis (parliament) of Turkmenistan unanimously voted to adopt the relevant law.

It is planned that the medal will be awarded to both citizens of Turkmenistan (doctors, teachers, educators, scientists, government and public figures), and foreigners or stateless persons for “a significant contribution to the development of social, public, humanitarian, charitable, volunteer activities, to the organization medical services, rehabilitation, as well as financial and material assistance, counseling and technical assistance to children and youth in need of support.”

The regulations on the medal indicate that, in addition to the medal, the recipient will also be presented with a special gift on behalf of the “National Leader of the Turkmen People (this is the official title of Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov), Chairman of the Khalk Maslakhaty, respected Hero-Arkadag” with the sign of the Charitable Foundation.

“The Arkadag Medal of Turkmenistan is established with the aim of broadly supporting humane initiatives, respect for achieved merits, accumulated experience, and the growing international authority of the Charitable Foundation for helping children in need of care named after Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov,” the regulations on the new medal say.

The medal with a diameter of 45 mm is made of 925 silver and plated with gold.

It is noteworthy that the establishment of the new medal coincided with the holding of the next session of the Halk Maslakhaty, at which the President of Turkmenistan was awarded the title of “Hero of the Country.” This reminds local observers of the “personality cult ceremony” of Serdar Berdimuhamedov. After the Halk Maslahaty session, local authorities also resumed holding propaganda meetings with the participation of the local population. According to anonymous information, the “people’s council” is assembled forcibly and without dialogue with the people. That is, public sector workers, for example, have no choice. On pain of dismissal, they are required to gather for extras, applaud enthusiastically on command, and hand over their mobile phones at the entrance. This is necessary primarily to ensure that real information does not leak out. Moreover, propaganda meetings are even introduced in schools in the form of lectures. Whoever learns Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov’s poems by heart will receive good grades at the end of the quarter.

Everything would be fine, but according to civil activists, and the Turkmen people themselves, there is no benefit from such meetings, as well as medals in honor of holidays – they do not affect the lives of ordinary people in any way. Their quality does not improve, their health does not improve, and there is no more money to support their lives. Just a beautiful wrapper for bittersweet! Everything is in the “best traditions” of Soviet times!