Saparmyrat Niyazov outlawed opera, ballet and men listening to car radios. He decreed that the month of January should be named after him and April after his mother. He published a book of his spiritual thoughts that became required reading not only in schools, but for all those wishing to pass their driving test. Even for central Asia, the absolute rule of Sapurmurat Niyazov was colourful. He had his face everywhere including watch faces, vodka bottles, statuettes and public portraits on the street.
Some of his demands varied from the strange to the absurd:
- Ordered the building of a palace made of ice to accommodate up to 1,000 people in the Turkmen desert.
- Built numerous monuments to himself including a gold-plated statue that rotates to face the sun at all times
- Plastered his own image on carpets, vodka bottles, watches and launched his own brand of perfume. When he dyed his hair black, he made it illegal to own watches which showed him with grey hair
- Banned opera and ballet, long hair or beards for men and the playing of recorded music at any public event
- Published a book of spiritual musings or “vessel of knowledge, wisdom and sound thought”, the Ruhnama, and introduced it into the country’s legal code
- Changed the name of January to Turkmenbashi, and the name of April to that of his mother
- Closed all hospitals except those in the capital, Ashgabat
- Decreed the building of a desert zoo host penguins among others
- Urged young people not to get gold dentures saying: “Those of you whose teeth have fallen out did not gnaw on bones. This is my advice.”
Via The guardian