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Last Updated: Thursday, 21 December 2006, 12:42 GMT
In pictures: Niyazov's cult

Golden bust of Turkmenistan's President Saparmurat Niyazov in Ashgabat

Turkmenistan's President Saparmurat Niyazov established a cult of personality, building many statues of himself across the country.

Golden statue of President Niyazov in Ashgabat

President Niyazov ruled the energy-rich country for 20 years, styling himself as Turkmenbashi, or Leader of all Turkmens.

Presidential palace in central Ashgabat

Much of the income from energy deals was poured into the capital Ashgabat's showcase projects, such as the presidential palace.

House of Free Creativity in Ashgabat

The authoritarian leader tightly censored media, despite inaugurating the book-shaped House of Free Creativity dedicated to the free media in Ashgabat in October.

President Niyazov at amusement park named after him

Mr Niyazov formally opened an amusement park named after him less than two weeks ago. The park features an exhibit of characters from Turkmen folklore.

Guests enjoy a boat ride during the opening ceremony of Nizayov's amusement park

The park, a national version of Disneyland, is spread over 33 hectares (88 acres).

School children study the Ruhnama

There are very few textbooks in Turkmenistan's schools apart from works by Mr Niyazov such as his Ruhnama - a mix of history and spiritual guidance.

Independence Day celebrations featuring a poster of the Ruhnama

Known as the Book of the Soul, the Ruhnama was required reading and was treated with the reverence normally reserved for religious works.

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