We fail to provide a decent education, the healthcare system is falling apart and industry is decaying. While official media outlets solemnly report that democracy is being established in Turkmenistan at an enviable pace, the simple urban and rural population are dancing at the opening of a new white-marble building that nobody needs.
You got the money, we got your honey. High school certificate? University? Workplace? The corruption in Central Asian countries has reached such a level that you don’t need to know to whom to give a bribe or how much the bribe is as everybody is familiar with the price list. Corruption is all-pervasive everywhere – in the military, kindergartens, institutions of higher education and healthcare, ranging from the etrap outpatient clinics to the medical centres located in the capital (one hears that a graduate of a medical university can dance more skillfully than make a correct diagnosis).
“I slept well before, because I knew I was protected. Then I had bad sleep because I was the one who protected. Now I cannot sleep at all because I know who protects me”. Looking at the Turkmen army, I recall this old anecdote but I don’t feel like laughing. When coming to a military enlistment office, a draftee is well aware of who to give a bribe to and in what amount in order to get a draft deferment or to be sent to a more or less trouble-free military unit or to be left in his home city or even his military enlistment office (allegedly each manat you spend is worth it).
This is Turkmen democracy. Don’t you agree? Yes. Are you against it? Of course! Do you want to have your say? I’d rather not. Who will be listening to you, if the President, or Arkadag reprimands the Supreme Court judge in public (who pursuant to the Constitution, is not subordinate to him). Reprimanding subordinates in public is a favorite hobby of the authorities and the favorite meal of the state-owned media outlets. Reprimanded, dismissed, appointed. Sometimes there is the impression that the higher authorities are playing chess. Who do they play with? Between themselves? Or with the newly-established Party of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs, to be more precise with Dadaev’s party?
Sports and games, by the way, are the age-old sore point of our Neutral and Independent state, but this is another story.