ABOUT SCORCHING TURKMEN SUN, GEOGRAPHICAL DISCOVERIES AND CANARDS
People say General de Golle looked very upset when he could not find his name in newspapers in the mornings. It seems Russian press tries very hard too not to upset Turkmenistan and its leadership. As a matter of fact, there is not a single day that Russian mass media would not use to publish information or make a reference to this or that decision, or even a regular statement, of president Niyazov, yet it is often made in a very strange manner. In fact, one young, according to its name, Moscow city newspaper informed its readers about a decision by the Turkmen president to build an ice palace in the outskirts of Ashgabat. At the same time, a journalist, having demonstrated unexpected knowledge of architecture and engineering, seriously warned heathen western construction companies, which undertook to erect this facility, that it cannot be done for this palace will surely melt down in the hot Turkmen sun. To make the warning look more convincing the report cites an unbeatable geographic argument: Turkmenistan, as it appears, is a hot climate country. Eureka!
This "masterpiece of the informational genre" is not worth paying attention to or should have been treated as a trifling joke if it did not demonstrate one pitiful pattern: certain Russian newspapers picture events in Turkmenistan, even of minor significance, either in a darkly-sneer style or a clearly biased and lying manner.
Let's take as an example a recent "pressing" by a number of Russian mass media in connection with the Ashgabat city administration's decision to demolish a dilapidated building of the Russian Pushkin drama theater. The reports contained such expressions as "the collapse of the last stand of the Russian culture" and "a slap in the face of Putin", or "a blow on the Russian prestige." One might think that the point is not about the routine work of the city administration but about a big problem in the interstate relations. The Federal TV channels aired two times an interview with the distinguished artist, Alexander Kalyagin, telling president Putin with breathing and righteous rage about the demolition of the Russian drama theater in Ashgabat and demanding actions to defend Russian culture in Turkmenistan. And the fact that the Russian drama theater was recently provided with a reconstructed building of a former recreation center in the main avenue of Ashgabat has been left virtually unnoticed in this hoopla. That today there is a square in front of the theater where a monument to Pushkin, by the way, not the only one in the Turkmen capital, is being erected. That the government of Turkmenistan allocated $200 thousand for reconstruction of the theater's stage alone. Are there so many examples of such a "collapse" of Russian culture in other former Soviet states?
Alas, nothing of this kind had been reported by newspapers that defended the theater's fate with such zeal and pathos. OK. Let's remember that those are journalists, but where are masters of Russian culture? Why don't they write a few words of thanks to the same city administration of Ashgabat that made a tangible contribution to the theater's renovation, using no pathetic and newspaper hoopla? Or, may be this "wave", stirred up by artists and journalists, was a mere PR?
A couple of months ago Russian press was preoccupied with a problem of the so-called "invalidation" of the Russian high education diplomas in Turkmenistan. The same plaints on "banning the right for profession", on "squeezing Russian education out" and so on were heard. The Russian Foreign Ministry even expressed its "concern" over this regrettable issue. And despite Turkmenistan's repeated explanations through the official channels that it is not about "non-recognition" of Russian education as such but about verification of diplomas obtained in institutions, registered nobody-knows-where and how as "academies" and "colleges" that are in abundance in today's Russia, as to their adequacy to the real qualification of graduates, this information again did not reach readers for unspecified reasons. Interestingly, two-three weeks later the Ministry of education of the Russian Federation launched a campaign on... identification of false diplomas of the Russian higher education establishments, which, according to the Ministry, was legitimated by the necessity to clean the country of grafters in professors' gown. And again, there was no word on the similar campaign in Turkmenistan.
And here is what we have. When Moscow's administration sweeps away the entire blocks of historical buildings to be replaced by shopping-entertainment centers, it is called "the planned reconstruction of the city". When Ashgabat pulls down one old building, it is called exactly "the collapse of the stand of Russian culture". If the verification of diplomas issued by false "academies" is viewed as a quite logic and justified action in Russia, then in Turkmenistan's case it is regarded as "discrimination of Russian education". In other words, nobody is permitted to do what Jupiter is free to do.
By the way, the Russian state TV informed its viewers the other day that two new ice palaces would be build in Moscow. Good idea. The only problem is that Moscow's temperature is said to hit 30 centigrade in summer. Let them not melt down.