Turkmenistan Bans People From Talking About the Weather

@Fergana

For almost ten days Turkmenistan’s capital Ashgabat has been flooded with rain, in what local meteorologists think have been the worst downpours since the 1970s. The rain has caused significant damage to the city’s infrastructure.

The Akhal province has also been badly affected, with agricultural land flooded. Mudflows hit the cities of Anev and Kahka, and in many areas electricity and part of the rail network were shut down.

However, there have been no reports in Turkmen media about the rains and the damage they are causing.

Turkmenistan’s law enforcement agencies have taken unprecedented measures to prevent photos and videos of the downpours from appearing on social networks. According to Radio Azatlyk, internet speed has slowed down, working VPNs are blocked, and IMO messenger has almost stopped working.

A Turkmenabad police officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said of the order from above: “We have been ordered to prevent the leakage of defamatory photos and videos abroad. It was explained to us that if defamatory information gets into the hands of the West or the U.S. State Department, this information can be used to destabilize the domestic situation.”

The situation is the same in Ashgabat. Security services are identifying and taking to police stations citizens who have shared photos and videos on social media of the rains, and the damage caused by the rains in Ashgabat and the provinces.

“In Ashgabat, cars could not move along the streets, people were swept away by the water pressure, and some of them were badly hurt. In the suburbs, houses and farms were flooded, farmers may be left without any income. There are many casualties, but there are no fatalities among the residents. Now the situation is gradually normalizing, and the authorities are eliminating the consequences of the flooding,” one Ashgabat resident told The Times of Central Asia.

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Times of Central Asia

Askar Alimzhanov graduated from the journalism department of the Kazakh State University named after S. Kirov, then worked as a correspondent for the daily republican newspaper Leninskaya Smen. He then moved to the United States to be a reporter for the daily newspaper "Cape Cod Times" in Hayanis, Massachusetts, (USA) under the journalist exchange program between the Union of Journalists of the USSR and the New England Society of News Editors. Since then, he has helped build transparency and understanding of Central Asia region in various executive level positions at esteemed media organizations including "Akbar"(Alma-Ata) international center for journalism, the Khabar News agency, the Television and Radio Corporation "Kazakhstan" JSC, and MIR- Kazakhstan.

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