Turkmen President’s Relative Loses Senior Position at Turkmenistan Airlines

The deputy general director of Turkmenistan Airlines closed joint-stock company, Rahymberdi Ishangulyyev, was sacked at the end of October. He is related to President Serdar Berdimuhamedov by marriage.

Gulnabat Dovletova (left) and her sister Durdynabat Rejepova at the wake of their father, May 2021

Ishangulyyev held the position for around three years. It is not known for certain what he did before this. According to one turkmen.news source, he used to head the export department of one of the state oil and gas concern.

Ishangulyyev is not mentioned in any open sources. The 45-year-old official has never received a state award, never given an interview to state media, never received a reprimand, and never created a social media account (at least not under his real name). There was no report in the official media about Ishangulyyev’s appointment or dismissal. The reasons for his dismissal are not known either.

It is not the prerogative of the President to dismiss or appoint deputy general directors of the Turkmenistan Airlines company, a turkmen.news source in one of the ministries commented. Rather, it is the responsibility of the chairman of the Turkmenistan Airlines Agency, Dovran Saburov. However, Ishangulyyev’s dismissal “was dictated by the presidential administration.”

Rahymberdi Ishangulyyev is married to President Serdar Berdimuhamedov’s cousin, Ogulkeyik. She is the elder daughter of Gulnabat Dovletova, sister of former President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov and, therefore, aunt of the current head of state.

It emerged in June 2022, three months after he became president, that Serdar Berdimuhamedov had sacked Dovletova as head of the National Red Crescent Society of Turkmenistan. Over many years she had managed to turn the local branch of this international organization into her own fiefdom. Only her commands could be followed there and her personal concept of the work of the Red Crescent tended to differ radically from the organization’s basic principles (for example, she thought that only “ex-prostitutes” live in old people’s homes).

In September 2022 there was an incident at the Botanical Garden restaurant, which belonged to one of Dovletova’s sons-in-law, Ibabekir Bekdurdiyev: a waiter, under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs, attacked a colleague with a knife. The Botanical Garden was soon closed and demolished, and many other cafes and restaurants in the center of “old” Ashgabat received the same fate too.