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RUSSIAN PRESIDENT PUTIN VISITS TURKMENISTAN
A monument made from the gold of former Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov tops the new Turkmen President Gurbanguli Berdymukhamedov's palace in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan on May 11, 2007. (UPI Photo/Anatoli Zhdanov)
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Saparmyrat Ataýewiç Nyýazow (pronounced ) (Russian : Сапармурат Атаевич Ниязов) (19 February 1940  – 21 December 2006) was a Turkmen politician who served as President (later President for Life) of Turkmenistan from 2 November 1990 until his death in 2006. He was First Secretary of the Turkmen Communist Party from 1985 until 1991 and continued to lead Turkmenistan for 15 years after independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. He was known in English as Saparmurat Atayevich Niyazov, the romanization of the Russian spelling Сапармурат Атаевич Ниязов of his Turkmen name.

Turkmen media referred to him using the title "His Excellency Saparmurat Türkmenbaşy, President of Turkmenistan and Chairman of the Cabinet of Ministers". His self-given title Türkmenbaşy, or Turkmenbashi (pronounced ), meaning Leader of Turkmens, referred to his position as the founder and president of the Association of Turkmens of the World.

Foreign media criticized him as one of the world's most totalitarian and repressive dictators, highlighting his reputation of imposing his personal eccentricities upon the country, which extended to renaming months after members of his family, and recoining the Turkmen word for bread by the name of his mother. Global Witness, a London-based human rights organization, reported that money under Niyazov's control and held overseas may be in excess of US$3 billion, of which $2 billion is supposedly situated in the Foreign Exchange Reserve Fund at Deutsche Bank in Germany.

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.
It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Saparmurat Niyazov."
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