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Golden Turkmenbashi Statue Topples

The gold-plated statue of Turkmenistan's past dictator Saparmurat Niyazov, known as "Turkmenbashi" or "head of all Turkmen," has finally been removed from the center of the capital of Ashgabat, international wire services report.

The notorius monument was set to rotate with the sun and drew constant commentary ranging from amazement to ridicule from foreign travelers or readers of news accounts.

The statue was first opened in 1998 and soon earned the nickname "grill" from the public because of its resemblance to a rotisserie.

In May 2008, President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov, the current Turkmen leader, said he was retiring the statue to a suburban location. The move was one of a number of steps he took without fanfare to dismantle the former dictator's cult of personality, yet it was years in the implementation.

The 230-foot statue stood atop the Arch of Neutrality, which symbolizes a central tenet of Turkmen state propaganda regarding its relations with powerful neighbors.

Workmen took down the statue August 25 and then removed the base yesterday.

The official state media of Turkmenistan appears not to have taken notice of the event.

Golden Turkmenbashi Statue Topples

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