APRIL 5 (The Conway Bulletin) – Turkmen president Kurbanguly Berdymukhamedov sacked the experienced Yashigeldy Kakayev as deputy PM responsible for overseeing the oil and gas sector, perhaps the most important position in his administration, for “shortcomings”, state media reported.
In his place, Mr Berdymukhamedov promoted Maksat Babayev, who was appointed to head Turkmengaz in January.
Mr Berdymukhamedov is all-powerful and although he spoon-feeds ordinary Turkmen with data that suggests the economy is running smoothly, anecdotal evidence suggests otherwise.
He also appears to need to protect himself from any culpability for Turkmenistan’s economic problems, linked to a sharp fall in the price of gas – its main revenue earner. This means he has to shift blame onto his ministers and senior officials who he appoints and fires with increasingly regularity.
Mr Kakayev had been appointed energy minister under very similar circumstances in 2015 when his predecessor was also sacked for “shortcomings”.
In the cabinet reshuffle, Mr Berdymukhamedov also fired deputy PM in charge of agriculture, Redjep Bazarov.
>>This story was first published in issue 323 of the weekly Conway Bulletin newspaper.