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Information attacks on Turkmenistan: does the end justify the means?

At a press-conference that lasted for about an hour it took Russian president's representative on human rights Vladimir Lukin about 50 minutes to talk about facts of humiliation, abuse and torture of Russian citizens by their own police and only 10 minutes to touch upon the need to support Russian speaking population in Turkmenistan that, in the ombudsman's opinion, have to be protected.

Russian TV channels, broadcasting the press-conference at RIA Novosti press center, left this proportion unchanged, yet made it in a rather strange manner: it looked like Vladimir Petrovich had spent a lion share of his time speaking about the so called "discrimination against Russians living in Turkmenistan" and briefly touched on the problem of relations between the population and Russian law enforcement agencies.

This is quite an exemplary approach that the Russian mass media have adopted: unfortunately, we often see a mote in someone else's eye than a timber in our own eye. At the same time, we openly ignore explanations of our neighbors within the CIS who try to present their own vision of this or that problem. In fact, whatever efforts the Ministry of Foreign Affairs had exerted to prove to journalists that a procedure adopted in the country on recognizing diplomas of higher education obtained by citizens of the republic abroad had nothing to do with the alleged infringement on the rights of holders of these diplomas, alas, the voice of Ashgabat remained unheard. Moscow's mass media keep writing that Turkmenistan invalidated Russian diplomas and their holders lose jobs.

It should be noted that this wave of "defending the rights of Turkmen graduates of Russian institutions of higher education" had caused much bewilderment ... exactly among those citizens of Turkmenistan that graduated from Russian institutions of higher education. "Who has benefited by it?" people ask in their letters to the editor's office. Nobody sent us any notifications or, all the more so, sacked us. On the contrary, such publications in "defence of our rights" harms the climate in multiethnic organizations."

Another Russian journalist working for one of the leading newspapers of Turkmenistan was more specific on that topic: "God, save us from such defenders!"

"They simply don't want to listen to us, she said about some Russian colleagues. Even when they telephone us to clarify certain details, they do not accept our arguments, apparently thinking that the truth can only exist in Moscow. Obviously, it is the legacy of the past when Turkmenistan was treated like the empire's outskirt that was forgotten even by God. But take a look from the window, dear sirs, the time has changed."

It is true the time has changed but the style has not. One respectable Moscow newspaper featured a huge article on the "degree" thesis calling for the exclusion of Turkmenistan from the CIS. Having not bothered to sort things out, journalists jumped to conclusions and informed the readers that graduates of Russian institutions of higher education were allegedly outlawed in Turkmenistan. "Automatic dismissals", "mass redundancy", "ban on diplomas" - having read a set of such horrors, readers will have a certain attitude towards their friends within the CIS.

Meanwhile, recognition of diplomas of higher education and confirmation of their equivalence is a common procedure for the majority of states in the world. The ministry of education of Turkmenistan is assigned with this task in line with the Regulation on recognition and confirmation of equivalence of diplomas of higher education obtained by the Turkmen citizens abroad under Decree № 126 of June 25, 2003. Some people might not like certain provisions of this document but nostrification (the procedure of recognition of diplomas) is internal business of any given state.

By the way, the same respectable Russian newspaper, replying the other day to one of its readers' question whether his bachelor diploma issued by a college in France would be recognized in Russia, said in fact: "Foreign diploma obtained abroad are subject to nostrification in Russia. A special department of the Ministry of common and professional education is assigned with this task and the procedure of nostrification was approved by the Ministry's decree № 15 of 09.01.97. You have to read this document because a diploma itself (legalized according to the established procedure) is not enough for confirmation of equivalence. You are required to produce a number of other documents so that a commission of experts can compare curriculums, name of courses and etc. Nostrification can be denied if the expert commission finds considerable inequality between education received abroad and the Russian standards of education. Your request can be also denied if the analogues Russian specialty doesn't require a bachelor degree or the period of education abroad differs in more than half a year from the duration of Russian course on this specialty."

Surely, every post Soviet state has its own path and peculiarities of development. And prior to giving assessments it would be good if we first studied the situation with all the respect to our neighbor's rights to pursue their own policy in line with the national interests of this or that state. As for now, information attacks on our neighbors within the CIS, yet skillfully directed, are unproductive for they are mostly based on myths than facts...

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Charygeldi AMANOV

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