Turkmen President Bans Lip Synching

He has outlawed opera and ballet and railed against long hair and gold teeth, but now Turkmen (search) President Saparmurat Niyazov (search) is determined to wipe out another perceived scourge: lip synching.

Niyazov has ordered a ban on lip synching performances across the tightly controlled Central Asian nation, citing "a negative effect on the development of singing and musical art," the president's office said Tuesday.

"Unfortunately, one can see on television old voiceless singers lip-synching their old songs," Niyazov told a Cabinet meeting in comments broadcast on state TV on Tuesday. "Don't kill talents by using lip synching... Create our new culture."

Under Niyazov's order, lip synching is now prohibited at all cultural events, concerts, on television — and at private celebrations such as weddings.

Niyazov has led the former Soviet (search) republic for 20 years, creating a vast personality cult around himself and issuing decrees regulating behavior in all walks of life.

In 2001, Niyazov banned opera and ballet as not corresponding with the national mentality. Last year, he called for young people not to get gold tooth caps and urged authorities to crack down