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Last Updated: Friday, 22 April 2005, 14:41 GMT 15:41 UK
Turkmenistan scraps marriage tax
Saparmyrat Niyazov
Turkmenistan has been ruled with an iron fist by Saparmyrat Niyazov
Turkmenistan has abandoned a requirement for foreigners to pay $50,000 (26,000) to marry one of its nationals.

The latest update to the family code means the only restriction for foreign spouses is that they should have lived in the country for at least a year.

In addition, the person they want to marry should be 18 or older.

The $50,000 requirement had been in force since 2001. No reasons have been given for the decision to drop it.

The change came to light when the country's main newspaper, Neutral Turkmenistan, printed the new family code, which made no mention of the marriage fee for foreigners.

On Friday the office of President Saparmyrat Niyazov confirmed that it had been scrapped, the Associated Press news agency reported.

The central Asian former Soviet republic, led by the autocratic Mr Niyazov since 1985, has remained largely closed to the outside world.

AP says that despite the change, visitors may find it hard to find a partner to marry there.

The country turns down most visa requests by foreigners, those allowed to come are closely watched, and locals spotted speaking to them face questioning by police, the agency adds.

President Niyazov exerts iron-fisted control over the minutiae of his citizens' everyday lives.

He has been made president for life, but in a surprise move earlier this month said presidential elections would be held by 2009.

Country profile: Turkmenistan
11 Jun 01 |  Country profiles

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