Little did I know that my contact with UH8HBR in 1980 would be my only one with Turkmenistan so far.
Rare and becoming even more so, Turkmenistan is considered the 3rd most-censored country in the world. In fact, with recent developments in Burma, it may now be in the #2 position. North Korea, of course, holds First Place.
From the Commitee to Protect Journalists:
Turkmenistatn’s President Saparmurat Niyazov (now deceased – late 2006) isolated the country from the rest of the world and created a cult of personality declaring himself “Turkmenbashi”, father of the Turkmen. The state owns all domestic media and Niyazov’s administration controls them by appointing editors and censoring content. Niyazov personally approves the front-page content of the major dailies, which always include a prominent picture of him. In 2005, the state closed all libraries except for one that houses the president’s books, and banned the importation of foreign publications. The state media heaped fulsome praise on Niyazov as they ignore important stories on AIDS, prostitution, unemployment, poverty, crime, and drugs. A handful of local and foreign correspondents work for foreign–primarily Russian–news agencies, but their freedom to report is minimal.
Newscasters began each broadcast with a pledge that “their tongues will shrivel” if their reports ever slander the country, the flag, or the president.
Actually, the President’s official title is “President For Life”. Freud or Jung could probably devote an entire career to this guy!
Six months ago, a Radio Free Europe correspondent (Dovletmurad Yazguliyev) who often wrote articles critical of the country was arrested on charges of inciting his sister-in-law to commit suicide – efforts to silence and intimidate him, according to his family & colleagues.
Amateur radio in Turkmenistan was officially suspended in mid-2006 although EZ8BP and EZ7V are sometimes heard.
The QRZ.com pages for each station states that EZ7V is valid for DXCC credit and that EZ8BP is not (although he will send you a QSL) . EZ8BP also lists 60 former hams in Ashkhabad, all of whom are now QRT, silent keys or have left Turkmenistan altogether.
At the time, I thought I’d simply worked another Soviet republic with UH8HBR. Little could I have known what a prize Eugene’s QSL would become. Google offers no clue as to what became of him.