Saturday, July 12, 2003

Kim Jong Il has the reputation of world's craziest dictator, but I wonder how he really stacks up aginst Saparmurat Niyazov of Turkmenistan, who according to IWPR on July 3 issued a decree banning cattle, sheep, goats, poultry, and bees while limiting pets to one per household in the capital city of Ashgabat. Two days later government forces bulldozed illegal livestock pens and executed surplus pets. This has been especially hard on residents who had no other income than their livestock, and basically lost their livelihood because they couldn't sell them. Some residents, however, appear skeptical that the decree will last. According to one resident named Timur, "If I have two canaries singing in a cage, then I'm in breach of the new regulations. So what are the authorities going to do - open the door and let one of the birds fly away?" Other recent decrees by Niyazov have banned all-night parties following graduation, loud music after 11 p.m., and required special permission for weddings, funerals and anniversary celebrations.


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