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Last Updated: Thursday, 21 December 2006, 11:11 GMT
In pictures: Scenes from Turkmenistan

Images of Saparmurat Niyazov cover many public spaces in Turkmenistan

BBC News website reader and photographer Wakako Iguchi visited Turkmenistan as a tourist in July 2006, and sent these photographs of daily life inside President Niyazov's closed state.

Satellite dishes in Turkmen capital

"Although I had a state-appointed tour guide with me at all times, the reality of people's lives was clear to see. Satellite dishes line a street in the capital Ashgabat because people try to gather information through Russian television."

Market in Turkmenistan

"Women shop at a small market selling dried food. The impression I got was that people were very careful with their money. The average income is very low."

Portrait - man in Turkmenistan

"I went to Turkmenistan because it was such a mysterious state. I could take photographs of people, but they weren't really free to talk about their lives and thoughts."

People enjoying the Caspian sea

"There were very few people enjoying the Caspian sea since the government demolished all the beach houses around. There is only one hotel nearby - and that is state-run."

Amusement park in Turkmenbashi

"People enjoy themselves at an amusement park in Turkmenbashi, but I was mindful that many other kinds of entertainment such as ballet, opera and circuses are banned."

Soldier in Turkmenistan

"A young man stands guard at a state monument. Life for people here is regulated. Military service is compulsory and you need a passport to get in and out of the capital."





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