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Turkmenistan: Arkadag’s Day at the Races Redux

Last month, security forces in Turkmenistan tried to prevent video of President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov falling off his horse from reaching the outside world. Perhaps they feared the scenes would damage his cult of personality.

It’s safe to say they have: broadcast all over the world, the images make a mockery of the Turkmen brand of totalitarianism, a style embodied in a vain president who feels compelled to show the world he’s the best at everything. The riding mishap, which occurred immediately after Berdymukhamedov won a carefully scripted race on April 28, as well as the reaction to it by security forces, say a lot about what years of isolation have done to Turkmenistan.

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Turkmenistan: Arkadag’s Day at the Races Redux

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