What would Turkmenbashi do? Roll over in his grave.
From the International Herald Tribune: "The president (Turkmenbashi's succesor, Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov), for his part, has hinted at change, including allowing a small number of public Internet connections in the capital and calling for improvements in the country's hobbled educational system." The next thing you know there'll be gold teeth and disco music back on the streets of Ashgabat. Wonder if you still have to recite the (dead) Supreme Turkmen's poetry to get a driver's license?
The article contains one of the sanest quotes from the State Department I've read ever: '"Rome wasn't built in a day, and we don't expect that Turkmenistan is going to turn into a Jeffersonian democracy by next Thursday," Evan Feigenbaum, deputy assistant secretary of state for South and Central Asia, said in an interview by telephone before Fallon's delegation arrived. "We are proceeding under the assumption that there are possibilities for U.S.-Turkmen relations that simply did not exist a few months ago."' (With logic like that Mr. Feigenbaum is probably going to be fired shortly for 'performance reasons.')
As for Kazakhstan: it's one thing to have yourself declared Supreme Turkmen for ever (that probably automatically elevates itself into a realm of 'crackpot')... and thankfully Team Astana have their act together. Nevertheless, politics in the capital Astana is reading like an episode of Days of Our Lives... divorces by fax, alleged coup attempts, kidnapping...