Earlier this month, authorities in Turkmenistan allowed a prominent cultural icon, Geldy Kyarizov, to leave the country. It is a noteworthy development for a country that rights activists describe as one of the most repressive states on earth, but it is unlikely that it signals a significant easing of the Turkmen government’s authoritarian ways.
Kyarizov was permitted to board a flight on September 14 to Moscow, where he was reunited with his wife, Yulia Serebryannik. On September 20, Kyazirov’s 14-year-old daughter Sofia and his sister-in-law Elena also were allowed to leave, enabling the family to reunite in the Russian capital, according to a statement released by Prove They Are Alive, a civil society campaign dedicated to raising awareness about political prisoners in Turkmenistan.
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Sonia Zilberman works on Turkmenistan at Crude Accountability (crudeaccountability.org), a watchdog group focusing on energy developments in Eurasia. Her work focuses on human and environmental rights.