Page last updated at 22:51 GMT, Saturday, 3 May 2008 23:51 UK

Ex-Turkmen leader's statue moved

Gilded statue of late Turkmenistan President Saparmurat Niyazov
The giant gold statue reflected Mr Niyazov's absolute rule

President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov of Turkmenistan has ordered the removal of a gold statue of his predecessor from the centre of the capital, Ashgabat.

The rotating statue of Saparmurat Niyazov, which towers over the city, will be moved to a highway near the edge of the city, officials say.

Mr Berdymukhamedov has sought to end the Niyazov personality cult.

Last month he reversed a decree renaming days of the week and months after the late leader and his family.

Mr Niyazov - who died in 2006 after ruling Turkmenistan for 20 years - used the country's oil and gas wealth to build statues of himself around the country.

The gold statue dominating central Ashgabat is the most prominent of them.

Correspondents say it reflected the total control Mr Niyazov had over cultural and political life.

He also built a theme park based on Turkmen folk tales, and made his book - a "spiritual guide" called the Rukhnama - compulsory reading for students and workers.

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24 Apr 08 |  Asia-Pacific
Profile: Kurbanguly Berdymukhamedov
21 Dec 07 |  Asia-Pacific
Cautious hope for Turkmen change
12 Mar 07 |  Asia-Pacific
In pictures: Niyazov's cult
21 Dec 06 |  In Pictures
Grim legacy of grandiose leader
21 Dec 06 |  Asia-Pacific
Timeline: Turkmenistan
03 Apr 08 |  Country profiles

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