Turkmenistan president awards Cadillac to officials

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Luxury cars are rarely sold in Turkmenistan, where even government officials do not use such vehicles

Turkmenistan's President Kurbanguly Berdymukhamedov has awarded a Cadillac to a regional government after its farmers delivered a record grain crop, a state newspaper has reported.

The four-wheel-drive Cadillac Escalade, made in the US, was given to officials in Lebap province, the newspaper, Neutral Turkmenistan, said.

The president has ruled the gas-rich nation with absolute power since 2007.

He is renowned for his largesse towards favoured officials.

In 2010, he ordered that Mercedes cars should be given to about 60 regional and district governors.

The BBC's Mecan Navrouzov says that President Berdymukhamedov is also the recipient of gifts from foreign businessmen, in addition to receiving carpets, horses and even a camel from provincial officials.

Our correspondent says that many of these gifts have been handed over by the president to local museums.

In more frequent cases, however, the president reprimands or even sacks any official who has failed to accomplish set tasks or objectives.

Much of Turkmenistan's population is still impoverished. It has been unable to benefit fully from its gas and oil deposits because of an absence of export routes and a dispute between the Caspian Sea littoral states over the legal status of offshore oil.

'Swiftness of a racehorse'

The car was given to officials in Lebap province for a grain harvest of more than 350,000 tonnes.

Image source, AP
Image caption,
The president wants to project an image of a man of action

"In the era of might and happiness, Lebap's courageous workers put in a big contribution to our country, which is moving ahead with the swiftness of a racehorse," President Berdymukhamedov was quoted by Neutral Turkmenistan as saying.

The Cadillac will be used for "work" purposes by the provincial government, the paper reported.

Correspondents say that such luxurious cars are not sold in Turkmenistan - where even government officials do not use American cars.

The former Soviet republic which he governs is mostly desert, though much of its population is involved in irrigation farming, predominantly of cotton and wheat.

Mr Berdymukhamedov's predecessor, Saparmurat Niyazov, who died in late 2006, built a cult of personality and was responsible for a number of maverick policies, including banning opera and renaming the months.

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