Monday, October 31, 2011 -
A golden statue of Turkmenistan’s former leader has been returned to the top of an arch in the Turkmen capital Ashgabat months after it was removed by the current leader, news agencies reported on Monday.
However, the statue’s base, called the “Arch of Neutrality,” has since been moved to the outskirts of the capital city.
The gold-plated statue of Saparmurat Niyazov was removed in August 2010 in a move widely seen as a signal that current Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov was rejecting the personality cult form of rule espoused by his predecessor.
However, it appears Berdimuhamedov has changed his mind, agreeing last week to receive the title of “Hero of the Nation” bestowed upon him by the country’s Council of Elders.
A new arch is being built to replace the older one, which stands at nearly 250 feet tall. The new arch will be 310 feet, the RIA Novosti news agency reported on Monday.
The new monument will be unveiled in December, during celebrations to mark the country’s “Day of Neutrality.”
Turkmenistan has followed a neutral foreign policy since independence.