The Turkmen authorities continue to deny the presence of the COVID-19 epidemic in the country, despite the fact that it has become rampant with many dead and sick. Writes about it platon.asia.
There are so many dead that the graves are dug with excavators at dawn, “while people are sleeping,” and so that they “do not come to the commemoration.” Radio Azatlyk reports that “the population of Turkmenistan is massively ill”, and “the authorities are spraying antiseptics by airplanes.” It cannot be ruled out that such an extreme measure as spraying antiseptics from aircraft is a sign that the coronavirus epidemic in the country has taken on a huge scale. It is no coincidence that in June the Deep knowledge group recognized Turkmenistan as the most dangerous country in Central Asia in terms of the epidemiological situation with COVID-19. As you know, this rating is set taking into account 130 parameters – the effectiveness of quarantine measures, monitoring, diagnostics, readiness of the healthcare system, etc.
There are not enough places in Turkmen hospitals for those infected with the coronavirus – people lie on beds in the corridors. Almost all infectious diseases hospitals in Turkmenistan are closed, “there are no medicines at all, doctors do not know what to treat.” People, hospitals and clinics have access to mostly ineffective antiviral drugs of Russian production “Grippeferon”, “Rimantadin”, and even then in limited quantities. In quarantine areas, according to various sources, there are practically no conditions for staff and patients. In an interview with our portal, the Turkmen politician, expert Maksat Saparmuradov said that these “quarantine” zones are primitive tent cities where people are fed once a day. As a result, today Turkmen doctors have become the first people to meet the large-scale impact of the epidemic, without receiving any compensation, social payments, overtime payments, travel expenses, all necessary funds, drugs for protection and work from the state.
At the same time, they were all obliged to work for two weeks in quarantine zones for patients with COVID-19 in the heat in protective suits, which turns into an almost continuous stay there, with a small stay at home for one or two days. Otherwise, the physician will lose the general opportunity to work in the health care system. Moreover, at their own expense they acquire all the necessary means of protection, food.
The Turkmen Ministry of Health supplies, of course, masks and gloves for medical staff, but they “do not have rubber bands for fixing on the ears, if any, they break off,” and the gloves “break right away.” In addition, there is an acute shortage of necessary equipment and medicines in these zones. The same doctors who were fortunate enough not to get into the quarantine zones must work on obligatory subbotniks. But this is also a privileged privilege, because this can be achieved only through the patronage of powerful acquaintances, or by giving an impressive bribe. Thus, there are not enough medicines and equipment, but the authorities continue to fight the epidemic with their favorite methods – punishments, fines for not wearing masks, etc.
The increase in the incidence of COVID-19 was preceded by another tragedy – a devastating hurricane in Lebap and Dashoguz velayats, the consequences of which became very serious due to inaction, lack of assistance to the population from the authorities. All these factors, as noted by some experts, have led to the widespread protest moods in the Turkmen society.
At the end of June, a number of media outlets reported Turkmen.news that “anti-government leaflets and posters with photographs of President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov and the words” Güm bol! “Were recorded in Ashgabat and other Turkmen cities. (“Get out!”) And “Ogry” (“Thief”) “. In this regard, one statement in a letter from a representative of the initiative group distributing these leaflets may be symptomatic: “I understand that our actions are dangerous, that if we are caught we will face severe punishment, but it is no longer possible to endure this regime and remain indifferent.”
At the same time, G. Berdymukhamedov, as if nothing had happened, continues to write “highly spiritual” books, engage in “enlightenment” of the people, officials and unofficially promote the version about the transfer of coronavirus by wind and salt storms from the Aral Sea region. At this rate, he can remain living in his virtual world, without noticing how changes will take place in real Turkmenistan, unpleasant for the entire ruling Turkmen elite … The economic crisis is already beginning to affect the contents of the refrigerator. Thus, the country recently introduced a card system for the purchase of the most popular products.
In conditions of widespread unemployment for the overwhelming majority of Turkmens, “the system of subsidized state stores is one of the main ways of survival.” As a result of all the problems described above, “panic is growing among the population, a desire to leave the country and dissatisfaction with the actions of the government.”
Meanwhile, due to the COVID-19 epidemic, foreign companies are closing their offices in Turkmenistan, and the embassies of world powers do not recommend visiting the country. Such a turn of events, of course, will have a negative impact on the Turkmen economy, the standard of living of most Turkmen.
At the same time, the well-known Turkmen human rights activist, founder of the site “Chronicle of Turkmenistan” Farid Tukhbatullin, in a special commentary for our portal, notes: “The crisis did not come yesterday. Since the fall in energy prices (circa 2014), it has been there. And people are already accustomed to queues for staples, salary delays, layoffs due to staff cuts. Yes, the pandemic has exacerbated social, financial and economic problems. But if we talk about protests, it’s not just the economy, in my opinion. The overwhelming majority of the most active population (labor migrants, students) are outside the country.
In the country – employees of state and budgetary institutions, children and pensioners – all people dependent on the authorities. This is the reason for the presence of protest actions abroad and their absence inside the country. I do not exclude the possibility of protest actions within the country. But their probability is low. Moods and protests themselves are different things. The protests were real in the days of Niyazov. They led nowhere. In this issue (preservation or change of the regime), the position of the interested countries must also be taken into account, i.e. external forces “.
It is quite possible that the matter will not come to protest actions. However, in our opinion, for the first time in the entire period of G. Berdymukhamedov’s rule, political protests, although carried out abroad, began to acquire an insistent character. Indeed, many of the protesters, including among the Turkmen politicians living abroad, have close relatives in Turkmenistan who may suffer because of this.
Nevertheless, they continue to put forward various acute political demands, which at least may be a sign that today there is a great demand for Change in Turkmen society, with the hidden support of powerful people. And the main catalyst for the mass promotion of this request may be the disastrous consequences of the COVID-19 epidemic in the country, given the WHO forecast that the coronavirus pandemic will continue for a long time …