Turkmenistan: Tone it Down 5633-turkmenistan-tone-it-downTurkmenistan: Tone it Down15 February 1999 Even the object of a personality cult has his limits. The image of Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov--named by parliament Turkmenbashi, the father of all Turkmen--adorns banknotes, town squares, factories, and hospitals; even a city bears his name. But on 21 December, he met representatives from Turkmen Television and Radio and criticized them for overdoing the praise. The following are excerpts from Niyazov's advice to the journalists, broadcast the same day on state television.

How are you getting on, lads, on the eve of the new year, and how is your spirit? Well then, please tell me about your plans and problems. I want to hear them. ... Feature and publicity films are good, but you have been showing a lot of them lately. Most of them praise the president and are about the president. You must know one thing: if you eat sweets all the time, then you will lose the taste for them. Even if a child eats sweets all the time, he will end up with cavities and lose his teeth. You have to know the limit for each thing. ... I would like you to analyze how people accept your broadcasts about the president. I know that you mean well. Do not look at me, but look at the people and see how they see it.

Your [radio] broadcast is very poor. You must like your job. You must assess your broadcast on the basis of how it will influence people. You have no idea about it. Your broadcasts must have the proper influence on the people and the country. ... This is not the way to do the job--only praising the president. When I start listening to the morning music program, it becomes difficult for me, and my heart bleeds when I listen to all this Turkmen president and Turkmenbashi at 7:15 in the morning after the news program. It is all right for one or two days. ... Your evening news is also no good.

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Translation provided by BBC Monitoring. 5633-turkmenistan-tone-it-down

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