The government of Turkmenistan held ceremonies in the nation’s capital, Ashgabat, this week to debut a series of “social and cultural centers,” at the heart of which will be a nearly 20-foot-tall statue of a golden dog.
The dog represents the Turkmen Alabay, a type of shepherd dog bred in the country and known to be the favorite of President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov.
“The initiative to put a monument to a dog, having demonstrated respect and honor to an exemplary courage and cordial heart of these wonderful animals, having highlighted their role in historical destiny of the nation and that place, which alabays occupy in life of the nation, belongs to the Head of Turkmenistan,” state media asserted.
Turkmenistan is an insular, repressive dictatorship whose government imposes cult-like worship of Berdymukhamedov. The president’s predecessor, Saparmurat Niyazov, styled himself “Turkmenbashi,” or “father of the Turkmen,” forced the nation to study his book of personal