Murder and Suicide at Troubled Turkmen School

A schoolteacher murdered a colleague and then killed himself in the eastern city of Turkmenabat. Both taught at School No. 21, which specializes in foreign languages. It’s not entirely clear what happened between the teachers, but both teachers and parents talk of a bad situation at the school. The problems are put down to the incompetence of the director and alcoholism of the staff.

The health and safety teacher, Begench Umarkulyevich (we haven’t managed to find out his surname yet), had been sacked from the school three times but each time had managed to get reinstated. He and his colleague, geography teacher Yelena Petrovna Alekhina, are reported to have been in a relationship. Alekhina, who was born in 1965, is several years older than Begench.

For a long time Begench used dubious methods to win Alekhina’s heart. Or to be more exact, he beat her several times, both at home and at school in front of pupils and colleagues. Yelena Alekhina decided to bring the relationship to an end and join her children in Russia. This angered her partner. He is said to have beaten her severely again and to have damaged her fingers so badly that she could not provide fingerprints for her passport.

This did not stop Alekhina, however, and she still planned to emigrate in the summer.

This may have been the final straw – Begench killed Alekhina then went home and hanged himself. Alekhina was buried on February 21. Sources say the murderer left a suicide note, saying that he really loved Yelena and killed her out of jealousy… Eyewitnesses who saw Alekhina’s body in the coffin say she was black and blue from the beatings.

Sources say that School No. 21 is known in the city for its unhealthy atmosphere. The school is located in the second residential district in the very center of Turkmenabat. Many employees, including women, drink heavily and are entangled in a web of affairs. Two deputy directors were interested in Begench, for example – one was responsible for pastoral work and discipline, the other for studies and the curriculum. But Begench did not show any interest in them and pursued an unhealthy relationship with Alekhina instead. He followed her, even stalking her.

This is all linked to the arrival at the school of director Muhabbat Charyeva, who is well past retirement age, but hangs on to her post thanks to corruption in the education system and her brother who has a top job in Ashgabat. According to sources, School No. 21 was considered a good school before Charyeva’s arrival. Now the staff have their minds on anything but work.

Inevitably this is having an impact on the students. Not long ago one of the pupils was arrested for involvement in gang robbery; another adolescent, 14, killed a female student who was his neighbor. The boy used to harass her: he would ring the doorbell, ask for the WiFi password or 50 manats. After yet another brushoff, he stabbed his neighbor with a knife multiple times. According to some reports, the schoolboy was under the influence of medication taken as a narcotic.

“During lessons at School No. 21 teachers play games on their phones or eat sunflower seeds. They don’t try to either teach anything or discipline the children,” a source says.

Inspections by both the local education department and the ministry are a constant feature in Turkmen schools though. And the commissions pay a lot of attention to the moral image and appearance of teachers and pupils, but in the form of strict guidelines and numerous prohibitions: for example, female teachers and pupils are not allowed to wear anything other than long national dresses, to use make-up or dye their hair, especially to lighten it.

A priority for the members of the various commissions is to inspect the paperwork, the personal lesson plans of subject teachers, attendance records, and classroom layout… Meetings are held regularly in schools to voice these demands and remind everyone about the restrictions. But none of the above offers protection against teenage pregnancies or pedophile teachers.

The murder of Yelena Alekhina by her colleague should finally make the relevant authorities sort things out in School No. 21, sources say. The impact of this atmosphere on the current generation can already be seen, while if action isn’t taken, the future generation could be even worse.