I think John C.k. Daly is mistaken in reading some recent moves by Turkmenistan's President Gurbanguly Berdymuhammedov as an effort to improve the country's human rights image
. I can't remember where now, but I got the impression from other articles that the sentencing of former security chief Akmurat Redzhepov was more about his consolidation of power within the regime, while mass pardons of prisoners aren't that uncommon in dictatorships, serving primarily to enhance the dictators' image and hence power as holders of life and death. I suspect Berdymuhammedov will be more liberal than Niyazov was, but only because it would be hard to even approach his level of repression. We're a long way even from neighboring countries like Kazakhstan.