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Last Updated: Monday, 30 October 2006, 13:18 GMT
In pictures: Turkmen celebrations

Independence Day celebrations in the Turkmen capital Ashgabat

Rare photos from inside the repressive state of Turkmenistan show celebrations marking the 15th anniversary of independence from the former Soviet Union on 27 October.

Portrait of Turkmenbashi

Portraits of President Saparmyrat Niyazov - who has built up a cult of personality and styled himself Turkmenbashi, leader of the Turkmen - were rolled out in the capital Ashgabat.

Independence Day celebrations in the Turkmen capital Ashgabat

The country's best horses took part. Ashgabat is home to Central Asia's finest race track and the biggest stud farm.

Independence Day celebrations in the Turkmen capital Ashgabat

Turkmenbashi - known for his love of horses - was presented with a foal by the regional governors.

Independence Day celebrations in Ashgabat

Women in national dress took the traditional greeting of bread and salt to present to Turkmenbashi.

Women march during Independence Day celebrations in the Turkmen capital Ashgabat

A military parade was part of the occasion, with women marching alongside men.

Independence Day celebrations in Ashgabat

But only dignitaries, the military and government workers took part - ordinary residents were not allowed to attend.

Turkmenistan's People's Assembly

Ahead of the parade, some 2,500 members of the People's Assembly held their annual gathering. Here they listen to a speech by Turkmenbashi.

"World of Turkmen Tales" entertainment park in Ashgabat

An entertainment park opened in the capital featuring Turkmen folk tale characters. It has been dubbed Turkmenistan's Disneyland .

State TV pictures of the prisoner amnesty

Some 10,000 prisoners were also pardoned in an event broadcast on state television. Prisoners had to swear not to commit offences again.

State TV pictures a girl reacting to news of the prisoner amnesty

State-controlled media said thousands of people came out on the streets, crying and thanking their leader for the country's biggest ever amnesty.

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