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.