By Greg Norman
Published August 05, 2019
Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov is using a move right out of Vladimir Putin’s playbook -- or maybe Skrillex.
The autocratic ruler of Turkmenistan, rumored to have died in recent weeks, has resurfaced on state television in footage apparently showing him carrying out stunts such as driving a rally car around the country's fiery “Gates of Hell” crater and, in one odd section, DJing and playing a piano in what appears to be a home music studio.
Berdymukhammedov, who has held command of the Asian country since 2006, has not appeared in public since early July, prompting speculation on the Internet surrounding his health, according to Radio Free Europe. The website reports that by late July, Russian news outlets started claiming he passed away.
But then footage of the 62-year-old made its way to state television last week purportedly showing him inspecting bus stops in his country’s capital, according to the Washington Post. Those images were followed up on Sunday with a state television report about how Berdymukhammedov was enjoying a vacation, it added.
Footage broadcast by the station apparently shows the strongman driving an off-road rally truck around the edges of the fiery Darvaza gas crater, also known as the “Gates of Hell.”
He also is pictured bowling strike after strike at an alley, working out at a gym and playing around with a keyboard and DJ equipment while producing his own music, among other activities.
The Turkmenistan government has told Russian state media that reports of its ruler’s demise are an “absolute hoax,” the Washington Post says.
It’s not immediately clear when the latest footage of Berdymukhammedov was recorded, but the message state television is projecting is that he is still alive – and grooving.