Last Updated 10 November 2016

Since 2006, under new President Berdimuhamedow, there have been a few tentative steps toward liberalisation, however Turkmenistan remains harshly repressive, insular, and authoritarian.

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Constitution and government

While the former Soviet republic of Turkmenistan has lost most of its formal Marxist ideology, it has kept many of its totalitarian practices. The ruling Democratic Party of Turkmenistan (DPT) (formerly Communist) is a mishmash of nationalism and personality cult, with Islam thrown in as part of the Turkmen cultural identity. The constitution asserts freedom of religion or belief and freedom of expression in its constitution, but in practice systematically and severely violates these rights.

The government does not officially favour any religion, and in fact subjugates all religions to the ideology and control of the ruling party. However, in a religious twist on the bombastic traditions of Stalinist architecture, the government has funded the construction of huge mosques in the country’s major cities as part of its program to promote a national identity.  The mosques’ imams are required to preach the party line.

Education and children’s rights

The government does not promote religious education, and there is no official religious instruction in public schools.

Freedom of expression, advocacy of humanist values

Freedom of the press is severely restricted by the government, which controls nearly all broadcast and print media. Turkmenistan’s main internet service provider, run by the government, blocks undesirable websites and monitors users’ activity.

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