ASHGABAT, Turkmenistan – Turkmenistan has marked its leader's 58th birthday by opening a park named after him, a move reflecting his blossoming personality cult.
The park called Arkadag (Protector), the nickname of President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov, has a massive marble arch at its entrance adorned with a large portrait of him.
Berdymukhamedov, a former dentist who came to power in 2006 after the sudden death of his eccentric predecessor, didn't attend the park's opening Monday.
Last month, Turkmenistan unveiled a grandiose gold-leafed statue of the president carrying a dove and riding atop a horse, the first such monument to Berdymukhamedov in the country dotted with gold-leafed statues of his predecessor, Saparmurat Niyazov.
Like Niyazov, Berdymukhamedov hasn't allowed any dissent or independent media in the country that sits on the world's fourth-largest natural gas reserves.