Women Subjected to Humiliating Screening Checks
Customs officials of the Ashgabat airport forced all female passengers of one flight to undergo a rude and humiliating inspection without explaining why. The female passengers who arrived from Istanbul on a flight operated by Turkmenistan Airlines were requested to open their baggage, including their purses. Their passports and hands were then lubricated with a substance and they were instructed to enter a private screening room. In the screening room the women were asked to remove all their clothes and squat down ten times. It turns out that drug traffickers are identified this way. Many women cried due to the humiliation and tried to protest. However, any attempts to protest were suppressed by threats of including their names on a blacklist of individuals barred from exiting the country.
Toddlers to Provide Personal Records of Relatives up to Third Generation
In Turkmenistan, in order to secure a place in a kindergarten or day care for children, parents are now obliged to provide personal data of relatives up to the third generation. The names, dates, and places of birth of the parents, siblings, grandparents, and great-grandparents are recorded on a special form along with home addresses, and the place of employment or studies. Information regarding criminal records must be provided as well. The date of death and burial place of each deceased relative must also be indicated. The person filling out the form is required to tell about his/her visits abroad with destinations, dates, and purposes of the trips. Until 2007, this questionnaire was required for those seeking admissions to universities or applying for a job. In 2007, schoolchildren were also required to fill out such forms. Now it is being applied to infants as well.
Real Estate Prices Growing in Ashgabat
Prices for residential property in Ashgabat are increasing every year. Last year a studio apartment in a residential district cost $40,000, and now the average cost of such an apartment has risen to $50,000. The price hike for housing has resulted in increased rental fees. A fully-refurbished studio apartment is available for a monthly rental fee of $400. Renting similar apartments in the city centre is much more expensive. Pursuant to a Presidential decree of 6 July on the wage increase, the minimum wage in Turkmenistan amounts to 440 manats, which is equivalent to $153. The average salary equals $200. Low ranking and mid-level officials, appointed by the President, receive a monthly salary of $400.
Ashgabat Infested with Bedbugs
The Turkmen authorities have launched a campaign in the capital to exterminate bedbugs. There is a shortage of disinfectants to combat these insects and public health and sanitary services use kerosene and diesel oil. Foreigners, who checked into “Oguzkent,” one of the most luxurious hotels in Ashgabat, demanded that new accommodation be provided to them as the hotel is infested with bedbugs too. Special vehicles with sprinklers are operating in the centre of Ashgabat. In the country’s provinces the situation is much worse but all resources and manpower are now being deployed to rid the capital of bedbugs.
Ashgabat Infrastructure Badly Damaged by Showers
On July 20, hurricane winds and heavy rains caused significant damage to Ashgabat’s infrastructure. Basements of residential and office buildings, as well as underground car parks were flooded.