In Sicily, a reception was held recently to launch the Italian translation of a controversial book written by Saparmurad Niyazov, dictator and "president for life" of Turkmenistan. In Amsterdam, a Dutch translation of the book was unveiled at a party in a historic 17th-century house.Acording to the Post, various corporate interests in the West are financing translations of the "Ruhnama" -- including DaimlerChrysler.
The various releases this month of the two-volume "Book of Spirit" -- "Ruhnama" in Turkmen -- are part of an international drive to boost the book's circulation as well as what the government-controlled Turkmen media call a "victorious march around the world" by the author-president, 65, also known in his country as Turkmenbashi the Great.
... Human rights groups say the book is at the center of Niyazov's cult of personality and is ravaging educational and cultural life in his country. Almost everyone in Turkmenistan is compelled to study the book and pass exams about it, and the country's libraries have largely been emptied to leave little but the Ruhnama and Niyazov's collections of poetry.
This month, Niyazov ordered most libraries in Turkmenistan closed, according to Russian news reports.
... Niyazov, who allowed the United States to use his country's airspace during the war in Afghanistan, has been in power since the collapse of the Soviet Union. He tolerates no dissent and has turned the country of 5 million into a monument to himself.
DaimlerChrysler ... sells ambulances and other vehicles to the Turkmen government. The firm published the first volume of the Ruhnama in November 2003.If you're not as shy as Mertzig-Stein, please write DaimlerChrysler officials and let them know how repugnant it is for the company to enhance the international stature of a maniacal dictator.
"I can tell you that employees of DaimlerChrysler translated the book," said Ursula Mertzig-Stein, a company official. "A contract was signed and the book was presented to the leader." ... She declined to be quoted on the human rights situation in Turkmenistan.
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