Turkmenistan is located in central Asia, bordering Kazakhstan to the north, Uzbekistan to the east, Iran and Afghanistan to the south, and the Caspian Sea to the west. The country is a former Soviet republic, proclaiming its independence in 1991. The first president of Turkmenistan was Saparmurat Niyazov (Turkmenbashi), who ruled until his death in 2006. During the Soviet period, he was the first secretary of state of the Turkmen Communist Party. Turkmenbashi created an authoritarian state with strongly centralized power; he also preserved a state-controlled economy. In February 2007, Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov was elected as the new president. Despite ostensible changes in the field of human rights and freedom after the death of Niyazov, the Turkmen authorities retain strong control over sociopolitical life in ...

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