Turkmen Prosecutors Fired in an Attempt to Curb Corruption

The Prosecutor General of Ashgabat, Ovezmammed Shykhmammedov, was fired and then arrested on the night of February 3rd, according to Turkmenistan’s central state news agency. President Serdar Berdymukhamedov reportedly fired him for “improper fulfillment of his official duties and serious shortcomings in his work.” Shykhmammedov’s arrest followed the dismissal of Turkmenistan’s Prosecutor General, Serdar Myalikgulyev, just two weeks earlier. The reason given was similarly named as a failure to properly fulfill his official duties. Both men held their posts for about one-and-a-half-years. During this time, they surrounded themselves with trusted confidants and ousted possible opponents from their posts.

Former Minister of Justice (2013 – 2021), Begmurat Mukhamedov has been named the new Prosecutor General. He was Chairman of the Committee on International and Inter-parliamentary Relations in the Mejlis (Parliament) prior to his appointment. The position of the capital’s prosecutor is still vacant.

Sources familiar with the case say Serdar Myalikgulyev testified against Shykhmammedov after he was ejected from the session hall and afterwards detained. The former prosecutors are implicated in a scandal involving embezzlement from state-subsidized stores. They are also believed to be involved in Turkmenistan’s recent agriculture crisis, wherein last year only half of the planned wheat and cotton harvest target was realized. This is seen as a driving factor behind such radical measures being taken against the former Prosecutor General, notwithstanding his distant ties with the family of the President.

Despite being a signatory to the UN Convention Against Corruption since 2005 and crafting a five-year National Anti-Corruption Action Program, Turkmenistan remains the most corrupt country in Central Asia, ranking 170th out of the 180 countries included in Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index for 2023.