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Thursday, 14 June, 2001, 12:16 GMT 13:16 UK
Hefty tax to marry Turkmens
Mr Niyazov
This is the latest decree from President Niyazov
Foreigners wishing to marry someone from Turkmenistan are going to have to pay the state $50,000.

The fee - to be paid to the state insurance company - is supposedly to support any children of the marriage in the event of a divorce.


A guarantee for underage children if the marriage breaks down

Text of the decree
According to the presidential decree, foreigners must also first sign a contract, setting out their matrimonial duties, and provisions for any children resulting from the marriage in the case of a divorce.

Correspondents say the ruling is partly intended to protect Turkmen women against a growing trade in women from Central Asia being smuggled to countries like the Gulf States where they work as prostitutes. But there have also been allegations that the tax is a way of topping up the country's impoverished coffers.

Secretive state

The paying of a kalym, or bride price, by the husband is also traditional in many parts of rural Central Asia, but is given to the wife's family, not the state.

The decree also states that foreigners and those without citizenship will also need to prove they have lived in the country for at least a year and that they own their own home.

Turkmen citizens, for their part, have to be 18-years-old before they can marry a foreigner.

Since independence from the Soviet Union in 1991 Turkmenistan has remained largely closed to the outside world.

President Saparmyrat Niyazov, whom parliament has granted presidency for life, exerts iron-fisted control over the minutiae of his citizens' everyday lives.

Mr Niyazov has a television channel named after him called Epoch of Turkmenbashi and even a meteorite that landed in the north of the country was given his name.

Last year he announced the creation of a 2,092 square kilometre (1,300 square mile) artificial lake in the Karakum Desert.

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See also:

13 Nov 00 | Asia-Pacific
Turkmenistan plans desert lake
26 Oct 00 | Asia-Pacific
Turkmen government goes on health walk
07 Aug 00 | Asia-Pacific
Turkmen leader names channel after himself
11 Jun 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: Turkmenistan
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