Thursday, April 12, 2007

Memories of a friend

A quote from Central Asia expert Martha Brill Olcott about our departed friend Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov:

Boris Shikhmuradov, the former Foreign Minister who is still in jail, has really wonderful material on Niyazov. In a Carnegie speech he described Niyazov as already going kind of nuts. Boris talks about how he was always afraid of going to work on Mondays because when Niyazov had the weekend alone, [Boris] didn’t know what was coming. You had to make sure to get in by early Monday because by Tuesday things could be law if you didn’t talk [Niyazov] out of something...Niyazov was always telling us really dirty jokes. I mean, they were embarrassingly unpleasant. There weren’t punch lines that were obscene, but for example, one of the members of our delegation was a very well-known American, and he was offering this person “a second wife” to take home. His behavior was inappropriate for a state leader. In fact, what many Central Asian leaders used to privately complain about was the inappropriateness of Niyazov’s behavior.

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