Gurbanguly Berdimuhammedow, President of Turkmenistan (Re-elected on Feb 12, 2012)
Gurbanguly Mälikgulyýewiç Berdimuhammedow, born June 29, 1957) has been the President of Turkmenistan since December 21, 2006, when he became acting president following the death of Saparmurat Niyazov. On February 14, 2007, Berdimuhammedow was named the winner of the presidential election held three days earlier, and immediately sworn into office.
Berdimuhammedow was born on June 29, 1957 in Babarab in what is now the Gökdepe etrap (“district”) of Ahal province. He graduated from the Turkmen State Medical Institute in 1979 and entered a career in dentistry. He also received a PhD in medical sciences in Moscow. By 1992 he had become part of the dentistry faculty at the Medical Institute.
In an interview when asked about his life experience Gurbanguly Berdimuhammedow said:
“It is too early for me to write a detailed biography. My biography is in many respects typical of people of my generation.”
On influencing factors to his character:
“My parents always managed to maintain the hospitable atmosphere in the family. They were happy at an opportunity to communicate openly with people – friends and relatives. They always took active part in the resolving of other people’s problems and difficulties…(more)…this necessity in empathy my parents had instilled in me in the childhood influenced, to the considerable extent, my choice to devote my life to medicine…(more)…readiness to help a neighbor is peculiar to the society as a whole, it may characterize the strength and moral health of the nation. The Turkmen literature has many splendid authors who gave the world their immortal works that express the profound Turkmen people’s wisdom in a concentrated form. I admire Makhtumkuli, Andalib, Azadi, Kemine… Due to my medical education I read a lot the works of Ibn Sina (Avicenna), a great scholar of the medieval times, with great interest. The expanse of his interests and the depth of the scientist’s judgments stroke me. Ibn Sina is a great man not only as a doctor but as a philosopher and thinker as well.”
In 1995 under the rule of Saparmurat Niyazov, Berdimuhammedow became head of the dentistry center of the Ministry of Health and Medical Industry. In 1997 he was named Health Minister, and also became Deputy Prime Minister in 2001. In April 2004, Niyazov suspended Bedimuhammedow salary for three months because healthcare workers were also not being paid. The Health Ministry was responsible for carrying out Niyazov’s notorious order to close all hospitals outside of the capital city and major regional towns in 2005.
Following the death of Niyazov, who did not name a successor, in December 2006, Berdimuhammedow became the head of the commission to organize Niyazov’s state funeral. This immediately led to speculation that he was a front-runner in the race to appoint a successor to Niyazov in the power vacuum that followed his death.
Saparmurat Niyazov, Former President of Turkmenistan
Saparmurat Niyazov was born on February 19, 1940, into a worker’s family in Ashgabat. His father died in battle in World War II and the remaining members of his family perished in Ashgabat’s massive earthquake of 1948. He was raised first in an orphanage and later in the home of his distant relatives.
Mr. Niyazov graduated from the Leningrad Polytechnic Institute in 1966 with a degree in power engineering and began work at the Bezmeinskaya Power Station near Ashgabat.
In 1962 Mr. Niyazov became a member of the Communist Party. In 1985 he was appointed Chairman of the Council of Ministers of Turkmenistan and was subsequently elected First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Turkmenistan, the highest state and party post. On January 13, 1990, Mr. Niyazov became Chairman of the Supreme Soviet, the supreme legislative body in the republic.
On October 27, 1990, Mr. Niyazov was elected the first president of the
Turkmen Soviet Socialist Republic. Under his leadership, on October 27,
1991, Turkmenistan proclaimed its sovereignty from the Soviet Union. In a second presidential election held on June 21, 1991, which was necessitated by the adoption of the new constitution, Mr. Niyazov was elected President of the Republic of Turkmenistan. Mr. Niyazov is also Chairman of the Cabinet of Ministers and Chairman of the Democratic Party of Turkmenistan.
Mr. Niyazov’s success as President of Turkmenistan has been attributed to his extensive and productive work in stabilizing the economic situation of the country. He has established Turkmenistan’s international prestige and has displayed concern for the people’s well-being. Following his election, one of the first resolutions to be adopted was a decree on the free use of water, gas and electricity by the people of Turkmenistan.
As founder and president of the Association of Turkmens of the World, Mr. Niyazov holds the official title of Turkmenbashi, Leader of all Ethnic Turkmens.
Mr. Niyazov was awarded the Magtymguly International Prize for
achieving the aim of Magtymguly, the great Turkmen poet and philosopher: the establishment of an independent state of Turkmenistan.
Mr. Niyazov is married and has two children. He is interested in poetry,
philosophy, history and music.
Mr. Niyazov died in December 2006.