As President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov nears the end of his fifth year in power and faces president elections next February, his cult of personality appears to be becoming more entrenched. The Council of Elders, a largely ceremonial body now filled with former parliamentarians removed after the downsizing of the legislature in 2009, recently announced plans to bestow a new honorific title on Berdymukhamedov -- "Arkadag," which means "protective mountain" or "protector." The title is reminiscent of the name given to Niyazov, "Turkmenbashi" or head of all Turkmen.
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Catherine A. Fitzpatrick compiles the Turkmenistan weekly roundup for EurasiaNet. She is also editor of EurasiaNet's Sifting the Karakum blog. To subscribe to the weekly email with a digest of international and regional press, write email@example.com