Foreign Policy Digital

Weekend at Berdi’s

The president of Turkmenistan is probably alive. But as with so much else in the country, it’s hard to tell.

Like Schrödinger’s cat, the president of Turkmenistan spent the weekend hovering between life and death, with neither outcome certain. It’s difficult to get information in or out of Turkmenistan, an isolated and secretive Central Asian country along the Caspian Sea that holds the world’s fourth-largest natural gas reserves.

Access to the internet is tightly controlled and censored, and there is no independent media. That leaves Turkmenistan’s residents and outside observers reading between the lines of official propaganda, relying on rumors, and subsisting on scraps of often thinly sourced information.

On Sunday, that rumor mill turned to Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov, the 62-year-old, , and . The Turkmen Embassy in Moscow eventually took the rare step of the reports on Sunday night, calling them an “absolute lie.”

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