Viktor Hramov, Éminence Grise of Turkmen Politics, Retires

One of the last of the Mohicans of Turkmen politics, Viktor Hramov, has retired after suffering a stroke. He left his post as the Turkmen president’s assistant in August. According to an informed source in the country’s Foreign Ministry, Kakageldi Charyyardurdyev, the president’s ex-press secretary, has replaced Hramov. Viktor Hramov was the last of three influential people who were close to the Turkmen presidents since the early years of independence.

Viktor Hramov (left) and the three presidents of Turkmenistan

According to the source, Hramov kept his senior position despite suffering a stroke not long ago. He had recently started to have trouble walking and could not get about unaided. In early August 2023 he was finally sent home for some well-earned rest.

The head of state’s press secretary, Kakageldi Charyyardurdyev, has become the president’s assistant in place of Hramov. Official media reported his dismissal as press secretary “in connection with his transfer to other work.” It has been confirmed that Charyyardurdyev holds his position in an acting capacity.  

Previously, in March 2023 news emerged of the death of Aleksandr Zhadan — another of the éminences grises of Turkmen politics. In his latter years he managed the Ruhyyet Palace of Congresses and the Arts. The last member of the troika, Vladimir Umnov, is still working — he’s a senior investigator in the personnel department at the Ministry of National Security. Of all three, only Hramov remained close to the head of state in recent years.

Zhadan, Hramov, and Umnov are the stuff of legend in Turkmenistan. They are considered the architects of the country’s domestic and foreign policy and in particular Turkmenistan’s policy of isolation for all these years. They were said to have been sent from Moscow, and supposedly to have pulled the strings of three Turkmen presidents, starting with Saparmurat Niyazov. That’s not the case at all, however. Hramov was born in Chardzhou (today Turkmenabat) and studied at the Tashkent polytechnic institute. After graduation he worked at the Ashgabat city telephone exchange, where in the 1980s he met Niyazov. While first secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Turkmenia, Niyazov took on Hramov as his assistant.

Zhadan was born in Krasnovodsk (Turkmenbashi) and received his higher education in Moscow. Umnov’s place of birth has not been reported, but he was also close to Niyazov since the 1980s.