Book by late Turkmen leader cut from curricula

Associated Press

ASHGABAT, Turkmenistan (AP) — Turkmenistan’s president has removed a book by his predecessor from state curricula, the latest in a series of moves to shed the legacy of the autocratic former president.

President Gurbanguli Berdymukhamedov announced Wednesday that a university entrance exam based on the Ruhnama, or “Book of the Soul,” by former president Saparmurat Niyazov, would be abolished. Niyazov said that whoever read his book three times would go to heaven.

As this post-Soviet republic’s first president, Niyazov was an eccentric figure who was celebrated in a personality cult that saw cities, streets, and months named after him. His book was mandatory reading in schools.

When Berdymukhamedov came to power after Niyazov’s death in 2006, he returned months to their original names — but numerous monuments and streets in his name remain.

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