Turkmenistan Leadership Sends Mixed Signals in First Post-Niyazov Trial

Turkmenistan Leadership Sends Mixed Signals in First Post-Niyazov Trial

The first major character test for Turkmenistan's new leadership has produced inconclusive results. While prominent environmentalist Andrey Zatoka is back at home with family and friends after a six-week judicial ordeal, Turkmen authorities sentenced him to a three-year suspended sentence for illegal arms possession in what human rights activists term a politically motivated trial.

"This case is a litmus test that will determine how the new leadership will deal with political dissent and civil society," says Erika Daily, Director of the Open Society Institute's Turkmenistan Project.

"In terms of how Zatoka was treated, this leadership proved itself no better than the previous one," believes Dailey. "Even if Zatoka is home, the damage is done to others who are working in their private capacity to improve life in Turkmenistan, and to building trust with the interim authorities."

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