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Turkmen celebrities are taking to social networks to dissuade their fellow countrymen from believing the rumors of Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov’s death. Popular singers, actors, and stand-up comedians (Turkmenistan has them, who knew?) are posting videos on Instagram with the hashtag #duryalan (stop lie), branding as traitors to the Motherland, mudslingers and scum whoever spreads rumors of the president’s demise.
“I hope you don’t believe all the lies on the Internet about our esteemed protector, and I know you don’t support them!” singer Selbi Tuvakgylyjova told her 56,000 followers.
She thinks that “traitors” don’t understand the concept of the Motherland. “This is where drops of your umbilical blood fell, this is where your children live,” she says. “I know that many of you live abroad. You are separated from the Motherland, working far away from her, and I know you miss her and want to return.”
She calls on her followers to support “our esteemed protector, our esteemed president, our leader, and to protect him from the mudslingers”. “He is alive and well, thank Allah!” the singer assures her followers.
“Fellow countrymen, we should tell the traitors to stop, we should put an end to the lies, we don’t have a lying, slanderous bone in our bodies. The traitors are godless; may Allah not leave you without faith and honor,” she continues.
“I ask you not to believe this fake talk! It’s garbage! The Turkmen have a saying — the dog barks but the caravan moves on! We shouldn’t be in thrall to these lies!” says actor Yagshy Goshunov, who has almost 100,000 followers on Instagram.
“We’ve got a peach of a country. May it always ring with children’s laughter! Let’s be proud of our Motherland. Those slanderers deserve a red-hot poker in the face! Long live our esteemed president who has led us to this happy era! There hasn’t been a state in world history with such a wealth of celebrations and holidays as Turkmenistan! May there always be weddings, joy, music, and song, and on those days we performers will bring you laughter and joy.”
Showman Palvan Mukhyev, who describes himself as “a member of the intelligentsia from the world of art”, and a young resident of Turkmenistan, allowed himself to go a little further. Like everyone else, he stressed that the reports of the president’s death were false, and explained where the rumors had come from. Naming the source on YouTube and the creator of the channel, he advises his followers not to take any notice of him.
“He’s one of those elders who ran away without doing anything useful for the country — someone advanced in years but not in wisdom,” the showman says.
“We don’t know why these scumbags are spreading their malicious reports,” declares musician and actor Begmurad Amangulyev, 31, who has almost 26,000 Instagram followers. “Either these people have no sense of pride in their fine country and its great development, or they are just jealous skunks driven mad by peaceful progress!”
“What other answer can there be? How can these scumbags write such revolting words when they live in a fairytale country, beautiful as a gupba [a silver decoration on a traditional woman’s skullcap — turkmen.news]! We have a wise leader who’s an example to the whole world. The people are united around him as one body and soul, and will be loyal to their leader for evermore! We are ready to sacrifice our wonderful lives for our beloved president!”
Some of the celebrities have turned off comments to their posts, but readers are expressing their opinions by using the same hashtag.
Instagram users have not held back where comments are possible.
“Where is your progress??? Say ‘stop!’ to all the baloney and injustice around while Allah still gives you breath! There are five million citizens in the country and three million outside… Some are separated from their families, others from their children… There’s a gaggle of toadies, asses and brown noses! You’ll understand when it affects you — and it won’t be long in coming! It will soon be your turn. Have you even asked the people around you why they are leaving the country??? May Allah open your eyes before it affects you!” writes a user with the name watancypatriot.
“Everything’s probably hunky dory for you in the capital, but come to the regions, the villages, if you want to see what life is really like. We’ve gone back to the hunger of 1997 to 2001!” another user writes.
Rumors of the death of the Turkmen president started to spread in the evening of July 20. The source of the “news” was the YouTube channel Erkin Turkmenistan, which is led from Sweden by writer Ak Welsapar. The next day Govorit Moskva radio station picked up the story, quoting the little known political commentator Aslan Rubaev, who that same evening apologized for the inaccurate information. In 24 hours the rumors had sparked a frenzy in the Russian media and among the many Turkmen migrant laborers abroad.
In exactly the same way in August three years ago, the Uzbek singer Shahzoda urged people not to believe the death of President Islam Karimov. Other Uzbek show business stars joined her, but on September 2 the government announced the president’s demise.
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