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Allamourad Rakhimov’s Turkmen Odyssey

A Eurasianet partner post from RFE/RL

When my relatives first told me in late April that an official letter of invitation addressed to me had finally been approved by Turkmenistan's Migration Service, I couldn't believe my ears. No one from RFE/RL has been permitted to visit Turkmenistan since the last trip there in 1991 by former RFE/RL Turkmen Service director Zarif Nazar.

Even though the "clearance process" by the Migration Service took 3 1/2 months instead of the officially required two weeks (!), the confirmed invitation letter meant that my file was "clear" for my visiting Turkmenistan. That was the moment when, as Turkmen people say, "I felt I already had one foot on the ground there."

Since I left my motherland in July 1999, and was granted first Canadian permanent residency and then citizenship, I have tried to return to Turkmenistan only once, in early 2007, right after the death of the bizarre dictator Saparmurat Niyazov. Together with other journalists, I hoped to observe the so-called "free presidential elections." But my request, along with those of some of my colleagues, was rejected without explanation by the Turkmen Embassy in Berlin.

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Allamourad Rakhimov is a broadcaster with RFE/RL's Turkmen Service in Prague. The views expressed in this commentary are his own, and do not necessarily reflect those of RFE/RL.

A Eurasianet partner post from RFE/RL

Allamourad Rakhimov’s Turkmen Odyssey

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