Turkmen Leader Looks at Amnesty, Tax and Natural Resources


Turkmen TV first channel, Asgabat
23 Oct 04

Turkmen President Saparmyrat Nyyazow has pledged to pardon 9,000
prisoners during his traditional end of Ramadan amnesty, three fifths
of the entire prison population. Speaking to the People’s Council, the
most powerful body in Turkmenistan, Nyyazow focused largely on
domestic issues, singling out misuse of land and water resources for
censure, pledging to simplify the tax system and promoting
power-wielders to higher ranks. Turning to foreign policy, Nyyazow
said Turkmenistan had no disputes with its neighbours, singling out
Uzbekistan in what marks an apparent continuing thaw in relations
after a low point in 2002, which saw accusations of Uzbek involvement
in an assassination attempt against Nyyazow. The following is an
excerpt from his speech, broadcast live by Turkmen TV on 23 October;
subheadings inserted editorially:

(President Saparmyrat Nyyazow, addressing the People’s Council of
Turkmenistan)) Hello everybody! I ask you to take your seats. Thank
you and good morning to you all.

Esteemed members of the People’s Council of Turkmenistan, dear
compatriots and guests. Here at the Ruhyyet Palace, today we are
holding the 15th session of the People’s Council of
Turkmenistan. (applause)

(Passage omitted: general remarks on the People’s Council, Nyyazow
then opens the session; the state anthem played)

Dear fellows, the agenda of the People’s Council session includes
discussion and approval of laws of Turkmenistan on land, on water and
on taxation. There is also the issue of amnesty, as I already
mentioned yesterday at the mosque (that was opened in Nyyazow’s home
village). I will present to the People’s Council the draft resolution
on amnesty and then, with your consent, I’ll sign it. Out of 15,000
Turkmen citizens currently serving their prison terms, 9,000 will be
amnestied on the Night of Omnipotence (at the end of
Ramadan). However, as I suggested yesterday, it would be better to
release them earlier, prior to the Night of Omnipotence. Because the
Night of Omnipotence comes once a year, let convicts be freed between
8-10 November.

(Passage omitted: following remarks about the agenda, Nyyazow takes
the floor to deliver his speech)

No disputes with neighbours

We do not have any dispute with any country – not with our neighbours
nor with distant countries. On the contrary, we are resolving more and
more issues jointly with them. We do not have any disputed issues with
them, be it Uzbekistan or Afghanistan. Here are representatives of our
Turkmen brothers from Afghanistan and Iran. We do not have any
disputes with them. I am grateful to you all.

(Passage omitted: Turkmenistan has diplomatic links with 121
countries; the economy is in good shape; only the agrarian sector is
lagging behind)


We have been a bit rushing with leasing plots of land to farmers and
into private hands to make the agrarian sector grow faster. There have
been lots of violations in land distribution among tenants and private
owners. We did not have an efficient idea how to perform this task, so
it resulted in violations such as the illegal sale of land or leasing
land to those who cannot cope with it.

(Passage omitted: recap on wrongdoing in land distribution)

Let me remind you here that Turkmenistan has over 49.2m ha of land
resources of which some 40m ha are being used. Of these (nearly) 40m
ha, 2.25m are irrigated while the rest, 35m ha, are pastures, state
reserves, forests and protected zones. However, the land has not been
used or controlled properly.

(Passage omitted: Nyyazow quotes good examples of land management in
some areas)

Land is a necessary item for us and it is our wealth. It cannot be
sold or given away because it is Turkmenistan’s major property and is
protected by the state. What can we leave for coming generations if we
lose or spoil our land? That is why we should have a law on land. The
previous one, adopted in 1993, has become obsolete and does not meet
present requirements. It needs changes. I have already distributed
among you the draft law (on land) so you can discuss it at your
residences tomorrow with governors and ministers.

(Passage omitted: grain growing does not require much work; cases of
misuse of plots of land quoted)

Land is state property and nobody has the right to distribute
it. (Applause) Dear fellows, every Turkmen family can get a plot of
land. But they should work hard on the land to keep their families
with it. Moreover, it is not enough to keep your families. Use the
land to get rich yields, I am glad to see and support it. Families
should work earnestly and get rich yields. Under the new law, each
family can lease up to 10 ha for 10 years. If you work earnestly in
the first five years and get a rich yield, then this land will be
given to you for private ownership.

(Passage omitted: association of stockholders to be set up to support
tenants; associations to be set up to support farmers starting out;
remarks on water resources)


At present, Turkmenistan consumes some 25bn cu.m. of water and of
this, 22m is used for irrigation. Unfortunately, water is being used
even where there is no crop or plant. The minister of water economy
(Basimgylyc Galandarow) is present. A huge amount of water, some 10bn
cu.m. out of 22bn cu.m. is being wasted in canals and elsewhere. How
can we tolerate this? Water is our top priority. How can such things
happen when there are miraps (people in charge of water distribution)?
Each Turkmen village has its own appointed mirap, so there are 500 of
them in 500 villages all over Turkmenistan.

(Passage omitted: further remarks on poor management in water
distribution; criminal responsibility to be introduced for waste of

We are creating the great Lake Turkmen in Garagum desert (northwestern
Turkmenistan) with some 3,000-km long drainage canals to take waste
waters to it in the Garagum heartlands. God willing, the first flow of
water will go there in 2006 and by 2009 Lake Turkmen will have a
capacity of 150bn cu.m. With our annual consumption of some 25bn
cu.m., this water, once recycled and purified, will be enough for six
years’ consumption.

(Passage omitted: capacity of reservoirs, currently at 3bn cu.m., to
be doubled soon; remarks on taxation)


Our previous laws on taxation are not working well. Of course, we are
not so poor as to rely only on taxes. But it is necessary to have
income taxes as other countries do. The point is who is collecting
taxes and why there are cases of tax evasion. There are such cases
among both state-owned and other organizations which always try to
avoid taxes. Perhaps they see taxes as too burdensome? Then let us
make them less burdensome. Currently we have some 17 kinds of taxes in
Turkmenistan. Let us reduce them to four . Dear fellows, we are
cutting many of them completely. (applause) For instance, you know
well that there is 20-per-cent VAT. So we are reducing it to 15 per
cent – this is one of the lowest rates in the world.

(Passage omitted: taxes on revenues from oil and gas to be 12 and 20
per cent respectively)

Income tax for individuals will be set at 10 per cent and no
more. (applause) Tenants will be taxed only 1 per cent and this will
remain so in Turkmenistan till 2010. Property taxes, common for all
countries, will remain at 1 per cent, as before. It is not much, of
course. That is all about taxes and we will give legal grounds to this
based on laws and the constitution. We provide such privileges to
everybody – be it an organization or an individual. Dear fellows, also
let me remind you that our taxes are the lowest and easiest in the
world. (applause)

(Passage omitted: Nyyazow leaves the rostrum to take his seat and
continues his speech from there)


We are going to pardon some 9,000 people on the Night of Omnipotence,
and their names will be published in our newspapers, such as
Turkmenistan and the Russian-language Neytralnyy Turkmenistan. Let
copies of the newspapers be distributed in all prisons and please, do
it straightaway.

(Passage omitted: Nyyazow puts the amnesty resolution to the vote)

It is a great act to release 9,000 people. Currently we have 15,000
convicts in prison, so some 6,000 of them remain there and we hope
that they too will repent. At the same time, those released should be
met with all conditions by regional, district and town administrations
and provided with jobs in their previous work places.

(Passage omitted: moves to wage increases)

Here I resolve that as of 1 January 2005 in all organizations of
Turkmenistan, regardless of their form of ownership, average monthly
wages are to be increased by 50 per cent and be no less than 2.25m
manats (some 430 dollars at the official exchange rate) (lasting
applause; chanting “Glory to the leader”). As of 1 January 2005,
pensions for participants and veterans of the patriotic war (World War
II) are to be increased by 50 per cent

(Passage omitted: similar rise in all pensions, benefits and grants;
repeat on pardoning)

We are pardoning three Russian citizens and sending them back to
Russia. We will also pardon one from Kyrgyzstan, four Tajik citizens
and others from countries such as Uzbekistan, Armenia, Moldova and
Kazakhstan. Most of the foreigners are from Uzbekistan. We are
pardoning them and sending them back to their home countries.

(Passage omitted: Nyyazow awards some elders with title of merited
elder of Turkmenistan; top power wielders to be promoted to higher


The minister of defence of Turkmenistan, Col-Gen Agageldi
Mammetgeldiyew, is to be promoted to the rank of army general.

(Mammetgeldiyew) I serve my Turkmenistan homeland, and Saparmyrat
Turkmenbasy the Great.

(Nyyazow) The minister of national security of Turkmenistan, Maj-Gen
Annageldi Durmusewic Gummanow, is to be promoted to the rank of

(Gummanow) I serve independent and neutral forever Turkmenistan and
Saparmyrat Turkmenbasy the Great.

(Nyyazow) The minister of internal affairs of Turkmenistan, Maj-Gen
Geldimuhammet Asyrmuhammedow, is to be promoted to the military rank
of lieutenant-general.

(Asyrmuhammedow) I serve independent and neutral forever Turkmenistan
and Saparmyrat Turkmenbasy the Great.

(Nyyazow) The head of the State Border Service of Turkmenistan,
Maj-Gen Orazberdi Soltanow, is to be promoted to the military rank of

(Soltanow) I serve independent and neutral forever Turkmenistan and
Saparmyrat Turkmenbasy the Great.

(Passage omitted: some other top officials also awarded with titles;
Defence Minister Mammetgeldiyew then presents Nyyazow with symbolic
sword and shield and title of “Great Supreme Commander”; Nyyazow
announces a half-hour break; at 0700 gmt the session resumes; floor is
given to farmers, some ministers, who propose to award Nyyazow with
the highest orders and titles; floor then given to Prosecutor-General
Gurbanbibi Atajanowa who quotes violations in land distribution and
also praises the low rate of crime)

(Prosecutor-General Gurbanbibi Atajanowa) One of the greatest
achievements of the Turkmenbasy (Nyyazow) era is the consistent
reduction of law breaches and crime, and strict protection of human
rights and state interests. During the first nine months of this year,
the rate of registered crimes in Turkmenistan was down by 15.1 per
cent against the same period last year. More crimes are being solved
and investigation has been improved. This is clear evidence of
established law and order in our country.

(Passage omitted: Atajanowa makes a proposal to introduce criminal
responsibility for abuse of land and water resources)

(Nyyazow) Some people perhaps think that it is an easy thing to serve
a prison term. God forbid an ordinary Turkmen man to be put in
prison. Some time later I plan to take some of you with me to visit
(prisons). Please go and look yourselves how they (convicts) are
serving their terms, what they eat and how they feel there, when a
human being is put behind bars like monkeys in a museum or in a
zoo. Their souls and bodies are in cages and I do not wish any of you
be in their position.

(Passage omitted: Nyyazow warns officials not to abuse positions; then
Myratberdi Sopyyew, a prominent farmer, reads a draft resolution of
the People’s Council on awarding Nyyazow with the Order of Ruhnama,
the highest award of the country. Nyyazow accepts the award; then
delegates start to approach him to congratulate and during the
ceremony Nyyazow kisses singer Maral Durdyyewa; Nyyazow then thanks
the session for the award and announces a break till 0600 gmt 25

(Video shows session)

(Duration: 2.5 hours. No further processing planned.)