World » Former USSR
Author`s name Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey

No Russian media left in Turkmenistan

A satellite dish in Turkmenistan is a lot more than just an antenna

Russian radio station Mayak has stopped broadcasting its programs in Turkmenistan. It was the last Russian source of information in the country after all Russian press and television channels were banned there. Mayak's radio frequencies are now constantly occupied with Turkmen music.

The Turkmen authorities explained it with technical reasons. It was said the equipment came out of order because it was too old - it was installed in 1964. A spokesman from the Turkmen Ministry for Communication told ITAR-TASS it would take $120,000 and about a year to start the broadcast again.

Turkmen people will definitely get used to the absence of the Russian radio channel, as they got used to no Russian newspapers and magazines and no Russian television. The only source of information in the Russian language for the local population now is the newspaper Neutral Turkmenistan. This outlet generally publishes president's orders and writes about latest achievements of the Turkmen nation and its leader. According to recent information published in the newspaper, Turkmenistan has become a space power. Russian carrier rocket Dnepr took a special container into orbit, in which there was Turkmenistan's state flag and the president's color.

Local media report about the national prosperity and well-being in Turkmenistan every day. Analytical programs have now been replaced with joyful songs about President Saparmurat Niyazov. Satellite television is the only distraction for local citizens. A satellite dish in Turkmenistan is a lot more than just an antenna. People start saving money for satellite dishes, even if it takes them a decade or two to buy one. Satellite television, as well as the Internet, is unaffordable luxury for the vast majority of the Turkmen population. Moreover, using the Internet is not welcomed in the country at all: email and website log-ons are scrupulously controlled by the local security service.

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