Last week Glavpochta (Central post office) of Turkmenistan was forced to collect copies of the magazine “Medeniýet” (translated as “Culture”) distributed earlier to newspaper stalls for retail sale. This magazine started coming out in February 2012 but due to the high price which was set by the publisher it does not sell well.
The magazine “Medeniýet” was set up pursuant to the Presidential decree to promote the achievements of the Turkmen culture. It publishes articles in the Turkmen, Russian and English languages.
A 96-page magazine costs 15 manats, i.e. equivalent of $5. Such a high price for Turkmenistan is explained by the fact that the edition is not subsidized by the government.
The glossy magazine comes out twice a month. So far two issues have been published, with a circulation of 10 thousand copies each.
According to a female employee of a post office in Ashgabat, following the tradition which was established under Niyazov’s rule, the staff members of the ministries and agencies are urged to subscribe to specialized periodicals, including cleaning ladies. Yet, there were no 10 thousand subscribers for “Culture”, and the surplus of newspapers was sent out to newspaper stalls for retail sale.
An employee of the theatre named after A. Pushkin believes that the magazine is not in demand not only because of high price but due to low quality of publications, i.e. the magazine itself does not spark interest.
According to our data, the retail price of a A-2 format four-page newspapers published in Turkmenistan is 10 tenge ($0.03) with costs of over 30 tenge. Yet, nobody buys even these newspapers. Despite an increasing number of periodicals, which have come out in recent years, their circulations go down in the course of time.
This is understandable. Under the existing rigid censorship it is unlikely that the residents will have an increased interest towards the Turkmen print media.