Fighting corruption Turkmen-style: President’s relative owns $1M worth wristwatches

High-end resorts, yachts, luxury cars, high-flying nights in Las Vegas between nightclubs and champagne… this is an introduction that could be appropriate to describe the life of a famous Hollywood actor or director. Instead, this is how the 28-year-old Ibabekir Bekdurdiyev lives his everyday life. He is a relative of President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov’s extended family. He is married to one of the daughters of the iron-fisted sister of the president, Gulnabat Dovletova.

Guga, as his friends call him, has a passion for expensive wristwatches. After monitoring his social media activity and cataloguing the watches he ostentatiously shows in his photos and videos, we calculated the total retail price to amount to more than $1 million. In fact, the calculation could be an underestimation of his full collection of wristwatches.

In the video below, the most expensive item is a Richard Mille 52-02 Horse Tourbillon, a limited edition watch marketed only in Qatar. Contacted by ATN, the representatives of the mother company in Florida referred us to their colleagues in the Middle East, who said the watch was worth around $565,000.

Richard Mille is one of Guga’s favorite brands. He owns at least four of their wristwatches, the cheapest of which is worth $110,000.

Little is known about Ibabekir “Guga” Bekdurdiyev’s professional activity, which apparently allows him to be a big spender. He is a sportsman. He has played Russian billiards since childhood and won a Turkmenistan-wide youth tournament at the age of 15. Following a trend among the youth, he then transitioned to wrestling and managed to enter the national team. But due to an injury on the eve of last year’s Asian Games in Ashgabat, he withdrew. Bekdurdiyev returned to playing billiards and won the gold medal by beating two of his Turkmen team-mates and his own coach in the final.

The victory at the Games granted him the title of “Honored Master of Sports of Turkmenistan,” a golden plaque from the president and a car. All of these prizes are still worth less than the cheapest watch in his collection.

ATN sources in Ashgabat said that Guga used to work at the state-owned gas company Turkmengaz, although the sources could not confirm his precise position. His acquaintances believe that Bekdurdiyev owns the Mandarin restaurant and the Zaman nightclub in the capital. This information could not be independently confirmed, however.

“I will not allow anyone to steal resources from the people, to get rich at the expense of the public!” Berdimuhamedov said at a cabinet meeting on January 26.

Apparently his harsh reprimand does not apply to his close relatives.