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Gurbanguly Mälikgulyýewiç Berdimuhamedow (or Gurbanguly Berdymuhamedov, Berdymukhammedov,..., born June 29, 1957) has served as the President of Turkmenistan since December 21, 2006. On that day he became acting president following the death of Saparmurat Niyazov and the imprisonment of Niyazov's constitutionally appointed successor, Öwezgeldi Ataýew. Berdimuhamedow and the Halk Maslahaty announced on December 26 that the next presidential elections would take place on February 11, 2007. On February 14, 2007, Berdimuhamedow was named the winner of the presidential election held three days earlier, and immediately sworn into office. In the 2012 elections, he was re-elected with 97% of the vote. He uses the honorific title Arkadag, meaning "Patron".
As President, Berdimuhamedow has gradually dismantled the extensive cult of personality surrounding Saparmurat Niyazov.[dubious ]
Early years and private life
Berdimuhamedow was born on 11 June 1957 in Babarab in what is now the Geok Tepe etrap ("district") of Ahal province. He graduated from the Turkmen State Medical Institute in 1979 and entered a career in dentistry. He also received a PhD in medical sciences in Moscow. By 1992 he had become part of the dentistry faculty at the Medical Institute.
In an interview when asked about his life experience Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow said:
"It is too early for me to write a detailed biography. My biography is in many respects typical of people of my generation."
On influencing factors to his character:
"My parents always managed to maintain the hospitable atmosphere in the family. They were happy at an opportunity to communicate openly with people - friends and relatives. They always took active part in the resolving of other people's problems and difficulties...(more)...this necessity in empathy my parents had instilled in me in the childhood influenced, to the considerable extent, my choice to devote my life to medicine...(more)...readiness to help a neighbor is peculiar to the society as a whole, it may characterize the strength and moral health of the nation. The Turkmen literature has many splendid authors who gave the world their immortal works that express the profound Turkmen people's wisdom in a concentrated form. I admire Magtymguly, Andalib, Azadi, Kemine... Due to my medical education I read a lot the works of Ibn Sina (Avicenna), a great scholar of the medieval times, with great interest. The expanse of his interests and the depth of the scientist's judgments struck me. Ibn Sina was a great man not only as a doctor but as a philosopher and thinker as well."
In 1995, during the rule of Saparmurat Niyazov, Berdimuhamedow became head of the dentistry center of the Ministry of Health and Medical Industry. He was appointed to the government as Minister of Health in 1997, and he was additionally appointed as Deputy Prime Minister in 2001. In April 2004, Niyazov suspended Berdimuhamedow's salary for three months because healthcare workers were also not being paid.
The Health Ministry was responsible for carrying out Niyazov's notorious order to close all hospitals outside of the capital city and major regional towns in 2005.
According to a cable from the US embassy in Ashgabat, Berdymukhamedov is married with two daughters and a son, but his wife lives in London. He has another daughter with his long-term Russian mistress.
President of Turkmenistan
The State Security Council of Turkmenistan appointed Berdimuhamedow acting president. The Council stated in its announcement that Öwezgeldi Ataýew, who as the Chairman of the Assembly of Turkmenistan was to become the acting president, was not appointed "in view of the fact that the prosecutor-general had instituted criminal proceedings against him."
Article 60 of the Turkmen Constitution stipulated that the acting president "may not stand for election to the Presidency", which would have barred Berdimuhamedow from running in the 2007 presidential elections. However, on December 24, 2006 People's Council voted to remove this provision, making him eligible for the election as one of the six chosen candidates, all members of the Democratic Party of Turkmenistan. Berdimuhamedow was supported by the current elite, and the official results showed him as winning 89% of the vote. In his first presidential trip abroad, Berdimuhamedow visited Saudi Arabia in mid-April 2007. There he performed the Umrah pilgrimage and met with King Abdullah. He then visited Russia and President Vladimir Putin at the end of the same month.
In his April 2007 trip, Berdimuhamedow visited Islamic holy sites in Medina.
He has also been quoted as saying
"A human being always communicates with God... There is no place for insincerity and craftiness. Even if you try to palter before God he will see it anyway. Truly, the one who can afford talking honestly and sincerely not only to God but people as well is happy."
References and footnotes
- President of Turkmenistan arrives in Mecca
- Spelled with two m in Turkmen language (Berdimuhammedow) and in Russian language (Бердымухаммедов) until 25 June 2007 (see here an election sign dated February 2007 on the web site of Radio Free Europe). Since this date his last name is spelled with a single m in every official text or newspaper. This dispatch from Eurasianet.org tells about the Russian form of his name, but the same thing can been observed about its Tukmen form on every texts published on internet after this date, for example on the website of Turkmen Press agency.
- Evidently the names consist of a series of compounds.
- The given name can be analysed as "gurban" 'sacrifice' (cf. Arab.-Pers. قربان ) and "guly" (from Pers. غلی [ghulī], an abbreviated form of Arab.-Pers. غلام [ghulām] 'servant').
- The patronym consists of "mälik" (Arab.-Pers. ملک [malik] 'king, sovereign', Pers. غلی [ghulī], and finally, the Russian patronymic suffix -евич).
- The surname contains three elements: "berdi" 'servant, slave' (from Pers. برده [bardah]), the name of the prophet Muhammad, and Russian -ов (the common Slavic suffix of origin/family).
- Although Gurbanguly Mälikgulyýewiç Berdimuhamedow is the only Turkmen form, and Turkmen, written with Latin alphabet, is the only official language of Turkmenistan, western sources generally use the Russian form Гурбангулы or Курбанкулы Мяликгулыевич Бердымухам(м)едов, using various transcriptions:
- Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov. 
- Berdimuhamedow celebrated his 50th birthday on June 29  "Turkmenistan: New President Shows Shades Of 'Turkmenbashi'". Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. July 3, 2007. http://www.rferl.org/featuresarticle/2007/07/553cbfb1-46aa-4757-ae2b-2069350baf5f.html. Retrieved 2007-07-16.
- "New Turkmen President Sworn In". Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. 2007-02-14. http://www.rferl.org/featuresarticle/2007/02/29f5fc12-0ee2-4e95-a44a-46ef09d5b4c0.html. Retrieved 2007-03-06.
- http://enews.fergananews.com/news.php?id=2003&print=1 Turkmenistan: President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov is awarded the status of Arkadag – protector
- Luke Harding (2008-02-22). "And finally... how the march of a lone cockroach put 30 people out of work". The Guardian. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/feb/22/television. Retrieved 2008-02-22.
- "INTERVIEW OF THE PRESIDENT OF TURKMENISTAN FOR THE TURKMENISTAN MAGAZINE". Turkmenistan Magazine. 2007-02-17. http://www.turkmenistan.ru/?page_id=12&lang_id=en&elem_id=9363&type=event&sort=date_desc.
- BBC profile
- "Turkmenistan: Change Of Leadership Presents Many Dangers", Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberties, December 22, 2006.
- Press-Uz.info, December 22, 2006 (in Russian).
- "Turkmenistan: President announces large-scale closure of hospitals", Amnesty International, March 24, 2005.
- [HVBhlsBDVlchZBDLvbSLvlbl/cis/20061221/57476457.html "Power in Turkmenistan temporarily moved to Berdimuhamedow"] (in Russian)
- "Turkmen Dpty PM Berdymukhammedov appointed acting president". ITAR-TASS. 2006-12-21. http://www.itarass.com/eng/level2.html?NewsID=11104815.
- The Constitutional Law of Turkmenistan
- New Turkmen leader is inaugurated, BBC, February 14, 2007; http://lenta.ru/articles/2006/12/26/awakening/
- Interfax > Politics
- Berdymukhammedov Burnishes Muslim Credentials On Visit To Saudi Arabia
- President of Turkmenistan arrives in Mecca, performs umrah