In an exclusive interview with EurasiaNet, Boris Shikhmuradov, a leader of Turkmenistan's growing opposition movement, said political turmoil in Ashgabat indicates that Turkmen leader Saparmurat Niyazov is worried about his hold on power. Shikhmuradov added the opposition intends to increase the pressure on Niyazov in an effort to topple his authoritarian regime.
"A hot season is coming to Turkmenistan, and we [the opposition] hope to help make it happen," Shikhmuradov said. He said that opposition leaders, now living in exile, are planning to return to Ashgabat to mount a direct challenge to Niyazov.
"We plan to return all together. Let Niyazov try to stop us. Let Niyazov try to impose the punishments that he has planned for us, with his accusations of various criminal deeds that have no basis in fact," Shikhmuradov said. "We have direct channels of communication to the people, who await our return. We will return with a one-way ticket." [For background see the Eurasia Insight archives].
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