10-13 September 2008: Events in Ashgabat


One and half months after the events, information about the armed clashes which took place in September 2008 in Ashgabat is still contradictory and incomplete.

This can be explained by the closed nature of Turkmen society. The official statements are limited to reports on the operation conducted to detain a group of drug smugglers on 13 September which was successfully «neutralized», and to causalities among the law enforcers (no further details are provided). Despite the fact that foreign mass media and websites run by Turkmen exiles reported on certain details of the incident, many of these reports were based on rumors which later were either left unconfirmed or needed to be looked into. Various versions of the reasons behind the events, voiced by analysts «while the trial is still hot», currently look like speculative assumptions.

The review below is based on information received from the sources of Memorial Human Rights Center inside Turkmenistan. Some of the data was obtained from discussions with the representatives of the power structures (“siloviki”) who participated in the September events. Apparently, the oral stories of the law enforcers who were unofficially questioned several weeks after the events may contain inaccuracies. In addition, some of their statements are likely to be based on governmental reports which, on various grounds, may include not fully reliable information.