Sunday, July 11, 2010

Times Slaps Doc Gurby Again

First post in a while, spurred on by duty as the official blog of Turkmenistan:

Turkmenistan: President Says Private Newspapers to be Allowed - And why not? Doc Gurby has nothing to hide. Every change this guy has made has been pro-Democracy, pro-liberalization. Even the NY Times has finally begun to recognize this:
Since the 2006 death of his autocratic predecessor, Mr. Berdymukhammedov
has taken steps toward liberalization, removing bans on institutions from the
Internet to the opera.

Yet still, the Times cannot resist the gratuitous slap:
But he controls power in the one-party state, and rights groups say reforms
are cosmetic.

Who are these unnamed rights groups? Is it really news that Doc isn't changing things fast enough to suit everyone?

There is news here, a real story, not a silly tag line. Where is Doc headed, what is the plan?. Will he keep the brakes on forever, or does he want to transform Turkmenistan into a functioning democracy during his lifetime? For many autocrats, the answe depends on one key fact - is there a relative or protege whom the autocrat wants to establish as a successor? If yes, the shift to democracy is limited. If no, then maybe Doc really wants to have democracy up and running by the time he retires. What has the Times said about Doc's family? About favored proteges? Nothing. It's a lot easier to write tag lines about rights groups, no thought required.

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