ASHGABAT, February 11 (RIA Novosti) – Turkmenistan has introduced a new state honor recognizing contributions made to the country by women, scrapping an award named after the mother of the Central Asian nation’s late president in the process.
Abolition of the award created in honor of the mother of eccentric former President Saparmurat Niyazov, who died of sudden heart failure in December 2006, is another inexorable step in the dismantlement of the late leader’s elaborate personality cult.
The incoming order will be called Zenan Kalby, meaning “a woman’s soul.”
Recipients will be bestowed with an award made from silver gilt inlaid with rubies and a diamond. A prize equivalent to ten average monthly salaries and a monthly 30 percent top-up of the recipient’s wages will also be given. A month’s salary in Turkmenistan currently stands at around $300.
The award will be given to Turkmen women found to have strengthened the country’s sovereignty and contributed to the national economy, science and culture. Foreigners may also receive the award for services in developing bilateral ties with Turkmenistan.
Niyazov, who styled himself Turkmenbashi, or head of all Turkmen, used large amounts of the revenue made from selling the former Soviet nation’s natural gas reserves to fund the installation of numerous gold-leafed statues of himself and create a series of idiosyncratic buildings and monuments.
Berdymukhamedov, 56, who took power after Niyazov’s death, has overseen efforts to remove the most prominent reminders of the late leader’s personality cult.
Berdymukhamedov has restored the old names of the months, many of which had been renamed by Niyazov. April was known as Gurbansoltan, which was the name of Niyazov’s mother. Also, the popular woman’s magazine Gurbansoltan-eje was in 2009 renamed Woman’s Soul.