With the death of Turkmenistan dictator Saparmurat Niyazov, the country he ruled for 21 years has announced that it will be softening its stance on foreign tourism, easing visa requirements, and developing coastal resorts along the Caspian Sea.
Niyazov was a bit of a nut, but a rather dangerous nut, during his long rule (that’s him above, by the way, gold-plated and part of a fountain). For the most part, only the locals were affected by his craziness (such as having to recite the great leader’s poetry in order to pass the national driving test).
Tourists, however, had to endure his bizarreness with tough visa requirements and, according to an article in the Moscow Times, “a law allowing [Turkmenistan] to deport foreigners for ‘immoral behavior.'” This is hardly the type of law you want hanging over your head at a beach resort.
So, for whatever reason, the new kinder and more benevolent leader of Turkmenistan, Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov, now plans to make his country more tourist friendly. Let’s all do him a favor and visit!