Spies are everywhere

Since 20 June a real spy scare has started in Turkmenistan after President S.Niyazov announced the exposure of Annakurban Amangylydjov, a former teacher of geography, as an alleged spy. All those who have contacts, namely cooperate and work closely (it is hard to find a more neutral term since in Turkmenistan espionage seems to be everything) with international organizations. Counterpart Turkmenistan which implements a program of civil society support initiative was the most unlucky. While they had been suppressed before, shortly before the start of "exposures" the Foreign Ministry of Turkmenistan prohibited the running of trainings within the module "Public organizations and the community".

The team of trainers flying on 21 June to Dashoguz to conduct a training session for initiative groups was not allowed on board. Under the pretext of a repeated checkup of passes (Dashoguz is a border region where the entrance without a special pass is denied) their passes were confiscated without any explanation. The trainings of another Counterpart Turkmenistan's team in the Akhal velayat were also annulled – just in case, to be on the safe side.

Presently, all who have any sort of contacts with international organizations or simply with foreigners have become the target of the special services. Discussions between directors of projects implemented on international grants are being bugged and electronic correspondence is being monitored. And Heaven forbid the manager of the state structure to meet with representatives of embassies or foreigners! Below is described what comes out of such meetings:

"I had a business meeting with a representative of the Russian Embassy. We maintain close ties since we are the only Russian Theatre in the country and sometimes receive support from the embassy", - says a person from the management of the Pushkin State Drama Theater. – "The day after a MNS office came to the theatre with endless questions. On the whole, it is very hard to live and work in such a situation".

Source: TIHR