Turkmenistan orders prisoners released for independence holiday

Oct. 26, 2013 at 5:24 PM

ASHGABAT, Turkmenistan, Oct. 26 (UPI) -- Turkmenistan's president signed a decree Friday freeing more than 1,000 people from the nation's prisons in celebration of the country's independence.

President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov signed the order in advance of the nation's 22nd anniversary of its independence from Russia and ordered law enforcement officials to ensure the prisoners spent the celebration Sunday and Monday with their families, RIA Novosti reported.

The move comes as human rights groups concentrate on Turkmenistan, which activists say has one of the worst records on prisons in the world. The U.S. group Freedom House ranks Turkmenistan as one of the nine worst countries for human rights abuses.

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