A Ghost city, photo essay by arnau rovira vidal
Ashgabat is the capital of Turkmenistan, a country in Central Asia, formerly a part of Soviet Union, independent since 1991. Turkmenistan is bordered by Iran (just a few kilometres from Ashgabat), Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and has access to Caspian Sea. It is an Islamic country and its main income comes from natural gas.
Ashgabat is a very closed city. It doesn’t grant many visas and there are just a few flights during the week. There are several restrictions for Internet content, phone calls and television. This strict control makes it a country with limited freedom and a restrained access to the outside world.
Turkmenistan has only had two presidents since the dissolution of Soviet Union. The second one, who has now been ruling for over 10 years, is named Gurbangulí Berdimujamédov, and won a controversial (and a fraudulent) election in 2006 after a suspicious death of the previous president, Saparmyrat Nyyazow.
Berdimujamédov, is a Guinness Book of Records fanatic and he has dedicated a large amount of money and time to build monuments in white marble in the capital. Ashgabat held the Asian Indoor Games last September, during which Turkmenistan unexpectedly won more medals than countries like China, Japan or Australia.
(by Arnau Rovira Vidal)