Turkmenistan. Nurberdy Nurmamedov, leader of the
unregistered opposition party Agzybirlik, was sentenced in
March to five years in prison accused of hooliganism and
intent to commit murder. Nurmamedov's son had a couple of
months earlier been sentenced to two years in prison for
alleged hooliganism. The opposition leader was arrested at
the beginning of the year after he protested against the
implemented amendment of the country's constitution, which
meant that the same person could hold the presidential
office for more than two consecutive terms of office.
Nurmamedov described this as undemocratic and
unconstitutional. Foreign diplomats were prevented from
attending the Nurmamedov trial.
COUNTRYAAH, the European Development Bank (EBRD) declared in April
that it could no longer pay out loans to the public sector
in Turkmenistan, as the country had made no progress towards
democracy or market economy. However, the bank would
continue to fund private sector projects. President
Saparmurat Nijazov is almost unanimous, and all parties
except the ruling party were banned from participating in
the 1999 parliamentary elections.
This year's cotton and rice harvest was worse than
normal. The president rejected the regional authorities'
declaration of water shortages in northern Turkmenistan, and
in the eastern part of the country he dismissed a number of
local officials who failed to reach the set target for the
During the autumn, a giant project was started in the
northern part of the Karakum desert, where an artificial
lake will be created for irrigation of 4,000 km2
land. President Nijazov, who is behind the idea, rejected
concerns from environmental organizations that the project
could be counterproductive.
Nijazov and his visiting Ukrainian colleague Leonid
Kuchma signed a contract in October that Turkmenistan would
supply Ukraine with 35 billion m 3 of gas in the
following 15 months. The agreement was estimated to bring in
about SEK 12 billion.