More on Ashgabat Shootout
"Nurmammedov's account of the fighting, based on conversations with Khitrovka residents, matches the account given by the Turkmen government and those who could hear the battle, including staff at the U.S. Embassy in Ashgabat...
"But Nurmammedov's version of why the fighting started differs greatly from the government's story. He says that at the center of the conflict was a man named Khudaiberdy Amandurdyyev, known as 'Ajdar.'
"'According to witnesses, the incident started in early September, when Ramadan began. Ajdar organized a traditional feast and the police came and took away the mullah' to break up the feast, he says. 'After that, events progressed quickly. Ajdar [then] hid from the police because they were searching for him.'
"Amandurdyyev was first arrested in July 1995 after taking part in an antigovernment demonstration. The protest is well remembered, especially since the government at the time tried unconvincingly to brand the protesters as 'alcoholics and drug addicts.' Nurmammedov says Amandurdyyev was released after a few years in prison and was then kept under tight surveillance by the security services."
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