Former Officials Punished for Talking Politics in Turkmen Prison

Some 17 prisoners, two of whom used to be top state officials, have been sent to the enhanced regime barracks at MR-K/16 prison in Bayramaly, Mary region for holding “political” conversations. Sources told that the prisoners, who are all prominent criminals, got talking during New Year celebrations.

Bayramaly camp in Turkmenistan

Former officials and other privileged prisoners had a New Year banquet which included alcohol. One of them, no longer sober, started a conversation about politics and President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov’s family.

According to the sources, not long before this a group of “stool pigeons” had arrived at the MR-K/16 colony. The prisoners were in fact special service agents on “assignment.” For the sake of the cover story they go through the entire process: from the remand cells to sentencing to arrival at the colony. These stool pigeons heard the drunk prisoners’ conversation. All those who joined in the conversation were sent to the enhanced regime barracks.

At least one of those punished – a former official whose work concerned water resources – was badly beaten by the OMON (special forces).

“Even the camp’s staff are afraid of these moles,” a source told “They don’t know either who amongst the new intake is an actual prisoner and who is working for the special services. The guards themselves are still in shock over the New Year party incident.”

These “prisoners” are later released under an amnesty. There are many amnesties in Turkmenistan to mark various state holidays. Sometimes a prisoner appears on the list who was sentenced under an article of the criminal code not covered by the amnesty in question. It’s only through such indirect signs that the colony staff know that a prisoner was an infiltrator.

At the expanded sitting of the Security Council on January 12 Berdimuhamedov criticized the work of the Turkmenistan Interior Ministry’s Department for the Execution of Punishments. He said that many failings had been found in the work of penitentiaries. However, this could be heard only in Watan TV program’s broadcast of the sitting. The TDH state news agency did not include these details, and many others besides, in its written report.