WikiLeaks alleges racy private life of 'vain' Turkmen leader

2nd December 2010, Comments 0 comments

The secretive leader of the Central Asian state of Turkmenistan is "vain", a "practised liar" and is rumoured to have a love child with a Russian mistress, a diplomat claimed in documents leaked Thursday.

In dispatches published on WikiLeaks website, a US diplomat said sources called the leader of the Central Asian state, Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov, "vain, suspicious," and a "practised liar."

She also reported a rumour that the married president has a mistress called Marina, a former nurse at his dental clinic, with whom he has a 14-year-old daughter.

Berdymukhamedov took over power in Turkmenistan in 2006 after the death of the eccentric previous leader, Saparmurat Niyazov, known as the Turkmenbashi and famous for renaming months of the year after himself and his mother.

The leader's predecessor, the Turkmenbashi, famously placed a golden statue of himself in the middle of capital Ashgabat which rotated to face the sun.

Turkmenistan, an ex-Soviet state on the eastern shore of the Caspian Sea and one of the world's most cloistered countries, has long been the subject of sharp criticism over its human rights record.

In a dispatch dated January 2010, the diplomat claimed the president was so wary of assassination attempts that last year he sacked an official who allowed a cat to run in front of his car while driving to his country house.

Berdymukhamedov initially cut back on some of the excesses of the Turkmenbashi and toppled the golden statue in August.

But observers have noted a budding cult of personality with giant banners of his face hanging on government buildings.

© 2010 AFP

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