Help identifying a country from some obscure "facts"

I read a Madison magazine last year, and it featured an article about a small country that I think was a dictatorship. I can remember three things:

[ul]
[li]It was a “-stan” country[/li][li]The “dictator” had banned beards on men [?][/li][li]The “dictator” influenced a television station into running a game show all about himself, with questions like “Who is the greatest leader”, etc. geared at promoting him/his family[/li][/ul]

Thanks Dopers.

My guess is the delightful Saparmurat Niyazov from Turkmenistan.

He did all those things mentioned, but hed did die last year though, so maybe it’s someone else?

My guess too. Nyazov did ban beards (and long hair) and shamelessly promoted himself and his family.

Ah yes! That’s it. Come to think of it it may have been 2006 when I read the article, or even an old magazine.

I had almost reached the stage where I convinced myself I had dreamed of this wonderful country.

I especially liked the huge golden statue that rotated, so that the sun would always shine on his face :slight_smile:

Something I’m definitely gonna do when I become the dictator of some unknown backwater country…

The best example of this “shameless promotion” of his family was when he renamed the month of April after his mother. If you ever read the comic strip “Doonesbury”, the character of Trff Bmzklfrpz (the dictator of Berzerkistan) is loosely based on him.

Having been to Turkmenistan, I can assure you it is a very weird place… pictures of the Leader everywhere (though it may well be changing now that he is gone). I think only North Korea is possibly more bizarre.

How very Caligulan! Did he marry within the family as well?

Nah… and he didn’t even arrange to have his son put in his place when he passed.

So just a self-absorbed totalitarian.

Ain’t that the truth. I’m pretty sure I was the first doper in (back in '97). Very, very weird place.

My favorite wacky dictator. He had a sense of unhinged, shamelessly narcissistic fun that the Pol Pots, Maos, Hitlers and Kim Jong Ils of the world just didn’t (or don’t).

I believe the sun followed the great leader, rather than the great leader rotated to follow the sun.
Weird weird place, but some great food and beer.

He also closed down all the hospitals outside the capital, reasoning that sick people could just go to the Ashgabat for treatment.

Naturally. I do apologize for my lack of clarity.

Could he be trying to imitate Peter the Great?

So what did he do on cloudy days? Were the clouds subject to some government punishment?

The problem was at night, when the statue had to bend down to face the sun through the earth. Thus displaying the moon.

I was there in early June 1998… and was (according to the chief of the border post) the first American to cross into Iran overland there. After a week in Turkmenistan, arriving in Mashad, Iran was like heaven. The stores had things on the shelves (imagine that!) :wink:

Iran had (and still has) good food, good infrastructure and generally happy people… Turkmenistan had none of this… but Turkmenistan does have one of the nicest looking flags of any country.

I was there on and off through '04 '05. Things (from a consumer goods point of view) were better. Plenty of new construction, (including an Olympic swimming pool for the supreme ruler father of the turkmens, horses) and there did not seam to be a shortage of food. We ate good food in many local restaurants. A couple of our guys headed out to a gas field down on the Iranian boarder, reports were, there was bugger all there.