The state news agency of Turkmenistan is reporting a groundswell of popular support for making President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov a "Hero of Turkmenistan," the state's highest civilian honor. The report is stoking memories of the cult of personality built by Berdymukhamedov's predecessor, Saparmurat Niyazov, who was a six-time hero award-winner.
The proposal to bestow the honor on Berdymukhamedov was made by Murad Karryev, the chairman of the Central Election Commission, according to the state news agency report, as relayed by the opposition Gundogar news website.
In reviewing the president's accomplishments, Karryev said Berdymukhamedov had raised Turkmenistan to an "unprecedented level of international authority and recognition, thanks to the carrying out of progressive reforms in all spheres of society."
News of the pending award for the president followed a wide-scale purge carried out by Berdymukhamedov in the country's energy sector.