Turkmens warned over presidential toilet paper

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Turkmen newspapers Image copyright Alternativnnyy Novosti Turkmenistana
Image caption You’d be hard pressed to find a Turkmen newspaper without a photograph of leader Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov

Local police in Turkmenistan are inspecting toilets for evidence that locals have been using newspapers containing photographs of President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov to wipe themselves, it’s been reported.

The regional police in the western Balkan Region have allegedly instructed community policing officers to check toilets in public places and private houses, and to find evidence of people using newspapers with pictures of the country’s president as tissue paper, Moscow-based news website Fergana.ru – known for its credible reporting on Turkmen affairs – reports.

Officers have been told to look for the Turkmen leader’s “soiled” pictures at landfill sites, as well as among garbage at waste collection points.

“There is a special janitor at each landfill site whose job is to inspect garbage, to look for soiled newspaper photos, to establish the house or flat of the newspaper subscriber and to report it to the police,” Fergana says.

It adds that people found guilty of “damaging” the president’s image will be issued with a warning. But, according to the Alternativnnyy Novosti Turkmenistana website, there are likely to be a huge number of issued warnings, as Turkmens – impoverished from an ongoing economic crisis – do not tend to spend their money on toilet paper.

“Why buy toilet papers if you have piles of newspapers which people in Turkmenistan are forced to subscribe to,” the report says. It adds that it is difficult not to soil the Turkmen leader’s photos because his pictures dominate all newspapers.

The loo paper crackdown comes after several children were reportedly detained over damaging portraits of Mr Berdimuhamedov. US-funded Radio Azatlyk claims.

It describes one such case where children dropped Mr Berdimuhamedov’s portrait and trampled on it while playing. In another instance, children were reportedly detained for adding a moustache and a beard to the picture of the country’s autocratic leader.

Image copyright Turkmen Government
Image caption Mr Berdimuhamedov has led Turkmenistan since 2007, where he has ruled autocratically and built up a personality cult

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