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Turkmenistan: Visits to Opera and Circus Are Allowed Again

(Mar. 2, 2008) On January 21, 2008, President Kurbanguly Berdymukhamedov of Turkmenistan repealed bans on opera and circus performances established in 2001 by his predecessor, who had believed that this kind of entertainment was unsuited to the Turkmen people and who had his own views about bringing Turkmenistan back to the roots of its culture. Although opera theaters and circus companies were not outlawed in the country, they remained open only for foreign visitors and the Russian ethnic minority. In issuing decrees that permit ethnic Turkmen to attend operas, the President wrote that the Turkmen deserve this kind of entertainment and cannot stay isolated from the rest of the world. These decrees appear to be in line with other measures, such as those permitting the return of major holidays traditionally celebrated during the Soviet era and those aimed at softening former isolationist policies. (5th Channel TV Station (in Russian), report published in ISI Emerging Markets database, Jan. 21, 2008.)