Dictator, dentist and crooner too. Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov, Turkmenistan’s political supremo, can do it all.
Berdymukhamedov revealed his musical side during a July 2 concert in Ashgabat that was broadcast on state television. The love ballad that he performed, “For You, My White Flowers,” he reportedly wrote himself, according to an account published by the British daily The Telegraph. Naturally, as is the custom for an authoritarian leader in Central Asia, he received a thunderous ovation from the crowd.
Now for those who revel in problem solving, here’s a thought: what about Berdymukhamedov acting as a last-minute stand-in for Sting, who backed out recently as the headliner for a July 6 gig in Kazakhstan?
As readers of EurasiaNet.org already know, the former Police front man was brutally bashed for performing in the Central Asian police state of Uzbekistan. Apparently, worry about another PR pummeling caused Sting to come down with a case of stage fright: he canceled his scheduled appearance in Astana, the Kazakhstani capital, after Amnesty International alerted him about labor unrest among oil workers in Western Kazakhstan.
Berdymukhamedov, of course, would not be bothered by any international outcry about unfair treatment of workers. After all, he presides over what watchdog groups say is one of the most repressive states in the world.
Another thought: what about Berdymukhamedov and Russian leader Vladimir Putin having a sing-off, American Idol-style, to determine the sale price of Turkmen natural gas to Russia? And make it pay-per-view.