Turkmenistan: The Transformation.

Rejep Japbarov. Contributor from Turkmenistan.

People who have experienced the historical transition of the state governance from the Soviet to the independence era remember the harsh years of the 1990s: economic poverty, institutional collapse, lack of administrative and skilled managerial personnel. For the first time, people faced and became victims of multiple network marketing schemes, racketeering and organized criminal groups that extorted money from the impoverished populations of the post-Soviet space.

On the background of the unraveling institutional and economic collapse of Central Asian countries in 1990s, with certain complications Turkmenistan was stable and managed to increase living standards of its people. Tajikistan went through a civil war and Kyrgyzstan experienced revolutions and internal disturbances, Kazakhstan that was plugged by racketeering and Uzbekistan faced Islamic threat. Despite all the difficulties, Turkmenistan was the least affected by the organized crime groups and criminal elements that were widespread in the rest of the Central Asia. Economic capacities of the country started unveiling in the 1990s. Internal political situation was stable; political leadership obtained the status of neutrality and ensured peace and friendly relations with its neighboring states.

Rapid economic growth of the country and the changes that occurred from the beginning of the independence era are reflected in the following photos collected from various sources to demonstrate transformation of the country’s capital city Ashgabat.

The current essay does not analyze the nature and symbolism of the new architectural projects, but aims to demonstrate the growth and the changes that occurred in the country. The photos vividly illustrate the difference between the past (1990s) and the present (2000s) and convey the spirit of change.

The author of this article gave credit and cited sources where photos were taken from. Please, send your feedback to pulsofcentralasia@gmail.com if you would like any changes to occur in the way your photos were credited.

Some of the changes were related to the national symbols of the country. In particular, shape of the national emblem.

Ashgabat is famous for its infrastructural changes; most of the ministerial buildings were relocated to the new areas. However, some objects such as the city railway station remained in place and the building was renovated in the spirit of the white marble city of Ashgabat.

One of the central architectural pieces of Ashgabat – the Palace of the President was also reconstructed as a symbol of the transformations occurring in Turkmenistan.

Educational system represents one of the spheres of state governance that experienced multiple changes in Turkmenistan.  First, secondary schools were transferred to the nine-grade system where each school graduate had to gain two years of work experience before entering national universities. Later in 2000s, these innovative approaches to education were canceled and modern school students of Turkmenistan finish eleven and twelve years of education before obtaining a diploma of complete secondary education. Today, buildings of the national educational institutes and secondary schools were reconstructed or received additional halls, such as the Turkmenistan State University named after Magtymguly.

New shopping centers and business areas were opened in Turkmenistan.

Arts were going through the changes. In particular, opera and ballet were closed down in 1990s, but then reopened in 2000s.