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Last Updated: Saturday, 9 August, 2003, 14:43 GMT 15:43 UK
One giant step for Turkmenkind
Mr Nepesow admires his unique feat

Inspired by the giant strides he sees his country as making, a shoemaker in Turkmenistan has created a huge shoe in honour of the country's president, Saparmurat Niyazov.

Erkin Nepesow, from Turkmenabat in the east of the country, used his garden to show off his creation to Turkmen television.

"I made this giant shoe because I was inspired by the enthusiasm of the Ruhnama, our independence and neutrality," Mr Nepesow said proudly.

The Ruhnama, launched by President Niyazov in 2001, is a semi-philosophical code aimed at promoting a spirit of national consciousness among Turkmens.

The giant shoe is a unique symbol of the great steps that Turkmenistan is taking in its Golden Age
Mr Nepesow

Mr Niyazov, who likes to be known as Turkmenbashi or leader of all Turkmens, is used to this sort of praise. In power since 1985, he has fashioned a considerable cult of personality around himself.

'Unique symbol'

The shoe's dimensions are impressive - 6.2 metres long, 1.65 metres wide and 1.76 metres high, with laces nearly 10 metres in length. It took about 30 metres of leather to produce the shoe which weighs 250 kilograms.

Mr Nepesow, a master cobbler, worked intensively for 50 days on the project with the help of two assistants.

President Niyazov - personality cult

"By making this shoe we wanted to show the great and successful steps that our independent country has made," he said. "There are no limits to our gratitude to our leader for unlimited opportunities for young people."

"The giant shoe is a unique symbol of the great steps that Turkmenistan is taking in its Golden Age".

But it is not just the president's attention he wants to attract with his latest venture. Mr Nepesow hopes this will be a record breaking achievement to secure him an entry in the Guinness book of records.

Only then, he says, will he make the other shoe to complete the pair.

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.




SEE ALSO:
Country profile: Turkmenistan
24 May 03  |  Country profiles
Timeline: Turkmenistan
22 Jun 03  |  Country profiles


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