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Turkmenistan15 February 2007

Newly-installed president urged to keep promises on free expression and Internet access

(JPEG) Reporters Without Borders today called on Turkmenistan’s newly-installed President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov to keep his campaign promises about free expression and Internet access. The former health minister was sworn in yesterday as Separmurad Niyazov’s successor after being proclaimed the winner of the presidential election with 89.2 per cent of the vote.

“The hopes raised by Berdymukhamedov’s statements must now be confirmed by concrete measures,” Reporters Without Borders said. “Increasing access to information by such measures as liberalizing the Internet and training Turkmen students abroad are essential steps on the road to Turkmenistan’s development and integration into the international community.”

The press freedom organisation added: “There is an urgent need to foster the emergence of a better informed society. Putting an end to the persecution of journalists and human rights activists and creating the conditions necessary for the emergence of an independent press must a priority.”

(JPEG) Reporters Without Borders sent an open letter to Berdymukhamedov on 8 February stressing the urgent need to address Turkmenistan’s extremely bad record on press freedom. “In our classification of countries according to respect for press freedom in 2006,” the letter said, “Turkmenistan was ranked 167th out of 168 countries, which means it was judged to be the world’s worst country for press freedom after North Korea.”

The letter urged Berdymukhamedov to “examine the possibility of allowing foreign news media to work and to broadcast in your country and allowing unrestricted access to the Internet, which right now is totally controlled by the state and accessible to just one per cent of the population.” It also called on him to amnesty imprisoned journalists and human rights activists.


Read our "blog review" about the presidential election in Turkmenistan :

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