[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Saturday, 27 August 2005, 07:27 GMT 08:27 UK
Turkmen book 'blasted into space'
Saparmurat Niyazov
Mr Niyazov has also published collections of poetry
Turkmenistan's idiosyncratic President, Saparmurat Niyazov, has found an unusual way to spread his message - by sending his writings into space.

Part One of the Ruhnama was blasted off on a Russian Dnepr booster rocket from Kazakhstan's Baikonur launch site on Wednesday, local media said.

People are obliged to read Mr Niyazov's book, an interpretation of Turkmen history, for moral guidance.

Known as Turkmenbashi, or Turkmen father, he has ruled from Soviet times.

He has created a vast personality cult around himself, issuing decrees regulating behaviour in all walks of life.

He has been named president-for-life, his portrait hangs everywhere in Turkmenistan, and streets and towns have been named in his honour.

'Artificial satellite'

The container, which also included a Turkmen flag and presidential standard, was launched as part of a mission to place two Japanese research satellites in orbit.

"The book that conquered the hearts of millions on Earth is now conquering space," said an article in the official Neitralny Turkmenistan newspaper.

The container is being described as an "artificial satellite". Turkmen TV said it was expected to orbit the Earth for the next 150 years.

The Ruhnama, or Book of the Soul, whose first part was published in September 2001, is studied daily in Turkmen schools and adults are obliged to read it every Saturday.

Its second part was published three years later.

The launch was reported days after Mr Niyazov signed a decree banning the playing of recorded music at public events, weddings and on TV.

He said there was a need to protect Turkmen culture from "negative influences".

Turkmenistan bans recorded music
23 Aug 05 |  Asia-Pacific
Turkmen leader opens up his soul
13 Sep 04 |  Asia-Pacific
Turkmen drivers face unusual test
02 Aug 04 |  Asia-Pacific
Turkmenistan's gilded poverty
19 Jun 02 |  Asia-Pacific
Turkmen live by leader's book
29 May 02 |  Asia-Pacific
The cult of the Turkmen leader
02 Nov 01 |  Asia-Pacific

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific