Turkmenistan. According to
Countryaah.com, Turkmenistan's isolation increased during
the year with conflicts over gas supplies. Due to unpaid
bills, at the New Year, Turkmenistan ceased extensive gas
exports to Iran. Russian Gazprom had stopped its imports of
Turkmenistan gas the year before, and now the company
declared that it would not return to import gas from
Turkmenistan due to a price dispute. This, together with
lower gas export prices, put severe pressure on the state
budget. The economic crisis was very noticeable with
commodity shortages and currency depreciation. President
Gurbanguli Berdimuchammedov dismissed his Deputy Prime
Minister, who was responsible for the energy crisis.
In February, presidential elections were held. The
authoritarian head of state and government Berdimuchammedov
was re-elected with 97.7% of the vote, according to official
data. The turnout was said to be over 97%. All opposition is
forbidden and all candidates are loyal to the regime. The
Constitution had been amended the previous year with an
increased term of office to seven years and the upper age
limit for the head of state was abolished.
As part of efforts to broaden the economy in addition to
gas exports, a new large industry for the production of
artificial fertilizers was inaugurated. The factory, built
for about $ 1 billion, was the largest of its kind in
Central Asia with plans to export to China and India.
President Berdimuchammedov was dissatisfied with the
results in the fight against corruption within the police
force and among lawyers, and in May the country's prosecutor
and a number of officials were fired. Later, a new
anti-corruption authority was established.
The president said in June that Turkmenistan must cease
to provide its residents with free electricity, gas and
water, a subsidy that has become a heavy burden for the
increasingly strained state budget. In October, the
president signed a new law that would gradually replace
subsidies with fees. The energy fees will contribute to
financing seven years of investments, mainly in the energy
sector, for the equivalent of approximately SEK 585 billion.
Faced with the Asian Games' sports contests in Ashgabat,
Human Rights Watch accused the Turkmen regime of forcing
thousands of people away from homes demolished without
reasonable compensation. According to the report, homeless
people and beggars had also been removed from the streets,
while the regime spent approximately SEK 40 billion on new
construction before the competitions.