Did leader of the Turkmen opposition surrender on his own will?
News agencies reported a sensation today that one of the Turkmen opposition leaders, Boris Shikhmuradov was arrested. The president of Turkmenistan Saparmurat Niyazov told about it during his meeting with delegations from Pakistan and Afghanistan. But as usual, when the matter concerns Turkmenistan, the incident with the arrest of Boris Shikhmuradov is a dark story as well.
News agencies assert that details of the arrest are unknown. No wonder, the problem is that there was no arrest at all.
The information website of the Turkmenistan opposition published a letter written by Boris Shikhmuradov. Here is just an extract from the letter: “Recently, searches of people and arrests have become especially cruel because I was still free. People were beaten and exposed to cruel psychological pressure to make them provide information where they saw me and the place where I stayed. Under such conditions, I decided it was the only possible way out to surrender to the Turkmen National Security Ministry. I couldn’t any more observe the situation from aside and decided that my arrest would stop persecution of innocent people.”
On December 16, special services of Turkmenistan searched the residence of Uzbek Ambassador Abdurashid Kadyrov. Some of the people arrested in connection with the attempt at Turkmenistan president Niyazov testified that Boris Shikhmuradov was hiding on the territory of the Uzbekistan Embassy. The Turkmen authorities accused the diplomat of assistance in organization of the attempt at Saparmurat Niyazov on November 25, and later Boris Shikhmuradov was declared persona non-grata on December 21.
It is not ruled out that the letter published on the official website of the opposition is designed to refute the report of the Turkmen president concerning arrest of one of his key opponents. On the other hand, right after the attempt at the Turkmen president, special services of the country arrested Boris Shikhmuradov’s mother. So, it is highly likely that he surrendered to the National Security Ministry on his own free will in exchange for the mother’s release. However, this is just a suggestion, not more.
Within a long period of time Boris Shikhmuradov was one of Saparmurat Niyazov’s confidants; he held the post of Turkmenistan’s foreign minister (besides, he was the only man of the president’s circle who spoke foreign languages, English and Urdu). Shikhmuradov actively contacted with the Taliban regime with the hopes to get their guarantees for an unhampered construction of a gas pipeline from Turkmenistan to Pakistan. However, he wasn’t a success.
It is not clear for what reason Shikhmuradov and Niyazov fell out. However that may be, the former vice-premier and foreign minister was accused of large-scale larceny in 1997. He was also incriminated in embezzlement of the state property to the sum of over 25 million dollars. And now, the man is also accused of organizing an attempt at President Niyazov, which is a more severe crime. Boris Shikhmuradov’s fate is not clear at all. Officially, a moratorium was declared on the death penalty in Turkmenistan.
Vasily Bubnov PRAVDA.Ru
Translated by Maria Gousseva
Read the original in Russian: http://world.pravda.ru/world/2002/5/15/40/4946_Shikhmuradov.html
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