Uh-oh. We thought the golden statue of Turkmenbashi, the past dictator of Turkmenistan Saparmurat Niyazov, (the title means "leader of Turkmens") was supposed to have been toppled.
President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov, who took power in February 2007, removed many of the trappings of Niyazov's cult of personality. Among them was supposed to have been the huge 230-foot statue of his predecessor clad in business attire, arms outstretched, which rotated with the sun.
To be sure, after he announced its demise in May 2008, it took Berdymukhamedov more than two years then to actually take down the statue as planned. Workmen finally removed the figure on August 25, 2010.
The statute formerly stood atop the Arch of Neutrality, which symbolizes a central tenet of Turkmen state propaganda regarding its relations with powerful neighbors.
But according to a report from the Russian news site lenta.ru, Turkmenbashi is back -- and now he is perched on top of the new Monument of Neutrality (not to be confused with the old Arch of Neutrality.)
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