Bouygues set to build vast sports complexin Turkmenistan for tourists

19th August 2004, Comments 0 comments

ASHGABAT, Aug 18 (AFP) - Turkmenistan's autocratic leader Saparmurat Niyazov has chosen the French construction group Bouygues to build a vast winter sports complex near Ashgabat to attract tourists to the isolated former Soviet republic, press reports said Tuesday.

ASHGABAT, Aug 18 (AFP) - Turkmenistan's autocratic leader Saparmurat Niyazov has chosen the French construction group Bouygues to build a vast winter sports complex near Ashgabat to attract tourists to the isolated former Soviet republic, press reports said Tuesday.

Bouygues won a EUR 36 million (USD 43 million) contract to build a 7,700-square-metre (83,000 square-foot) ice-rink and ski lift in the foothills of the Kopet Dag mountains, on the border with Iran, the state newspaper Neitralny Turkmenistan said.

The project "will create comfortable conditions for recreation and sport in this golden century," the newspaper added.

The plan will add to an array of gold-encrusted building projects Niyazov has already entrusted to Bouygues, including construction of the presidential palace, the parliament, two government ministries, a hotel, a bank, the academy of arts, a 2,800-seat auditorium, a drama theatre and an exhibition centre.

The French construction group operates in more than 60 nations, according to its Internet site.

Niyazov, the country's last Soviet-era leader, was officially named Turkmenbashi (father of all Turkmen) and president-for-life in 1999.

He has built an unparalleled personality cult around himself, trampling on citizens' rights and erecting gold statues and portraits of himself and his parents across the country.

Some cities and regions have also been renamed after Niyazov and his parents.

The autocratic leader razed vast swathes of low-rise housing in an attempt to turn Ashgabat, which was founded by Russian settlers in the 19th century, into a Central Asian megapolis.

A recent evaluation of Bouygues contracts with Turkmenistan is not available but by 2000 they had already reached USD 600 million, officials have said.

© AFP

Subject: French news

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