The president of Turkmenistan unveiled a huge statue for his favorite dog.
The 19-foot (6 meters) high sculpture, completely covered with gold leaf, honors the Alabay or Central Asian Shepherd Dog, a breed used mainly to protect herds of sheep and goats and to guard property.
Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov unveiled the monument on Tuesday in the capital city of Ashgabat.
Photographs of the grand unveiling ceremony showed that the extensive road network around the pedestal was closed except for singing and dancing spectators.
Meanwhile, Turkmenistan’s President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov has just unveiled a Gisnt statue of his favorite dog pic.twitter.com/NSlIlXbAoH
– Piotr Zalewski (@p_zalewski) Piotr Zalewski (@p_zalewski) November 12, 2020
The designers were not content with a lifeless statue, but placed the golden Alabay on a stone pedestal, which was covered with circumferential TV screens on which video clips of dogs were played.
Turkmenistan’s state news agency wrote that according to Eurasianet, the statue captured the “dignity and self-confidence” of the breed.
In 2015, Berdymukhammedov unveiled another golden statue of himself sitting on a galloping horse.
Claiming at the time that the statue was built in response to public demands, he said: “My main goal is to serve the people and the motherland. Therefore I will listen to the opinion of the people and do what they want.
Human Rights Watch’s 2020 report described the Turkmen government’s human rights record as “appalling” and said the nation remains an “isolated and repressive country under the control of the government. authoritarian rule”.
Turkmenistan is in an economic crisis, but the authorities have tried to prevent people from leaving the country to seek work, according to HRW.
The rights group said that unauthorized forms of religious and political expression were “brutally punished” and access to information was strictly controlled by the state.
According to leaked U.S. diplomatic cables, the country’s leader had once “blacked out” a motorist for cutting off his motorcade-the man was sentenced to 25 years in prison for attempted murder.
Berdymukhammedov spent much of his 13 years in government building a cult of personality. He once ran a dental clinic and was known for teaching his country’s security forces how to shoot and throw knives.
His literary career includes 35 books that have been revealed with the reverence normally reserved for sacred texts in other Muslim countries. He has also published a dance anthem with three of his young grandchildren.
According to reports, Berdymukhammedov has banned the word coronavirus. People wearing face masks or speaking about the pandemic in public have been arrested, according to Reporters Without Borders.
The country’s state-controlled media are not allowed to say or publish the word, and information about the virus has been removed from government health brochures distributed in workplaces, hospitals and schools.