Amid rumours of his death, Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov appeared on Turkmenistan’s state TV on August, 4. About 28 minutes of the 36-minute evening news bulletin were devoted to his vacation.
The viewers saw the Turkmen leader riding a horse, cycling, testing new arms, going bowling. Together with the ministers, he ‘inspected’ a swimming pool and then taught them to do sports exercises; he listened to a song and drove the SUV to the burning gas crater Darvaza in the Karakum Desert. It is locally known as the Gates of Hell.
The icing on the news story cake was Berdimuhamedov’s finishing his book and putting down the date – August 4, 2019.
Since July 5, the president of Turkmenistan seemed to have dropped out of public sight. Officially, he is holidaying from July 15 to August 15 and writing a book about medicinal plants. However, in 2018, Berdimuhamedov’s vacay lasted only two weeks and state-run media kept informing citizens about his activities.
In 2019, the only story featuring the head of state was aired on July 24, shortly after the reports about his death. But local experts said that footage of May, 10 might have been used by journalists.