international magazine
02 / 2004

Once again on Turkmen natural gas,
Or the role of the Turkmen «father of the nation» in Russia's natural gas balance

The post-soviet landscape has no shortage of national leaders willing to astonish the grassroots. Some gain attention by sheer extravagant behaviour, others tend to come out with the provocative utterances. However, only one personality can rightfully say that his very name (actually, half-name/half-title) astounds any audience — «the father of the nation» or Turkmenbashi for short. Saparmurat Niyazov could have remained a decoration of post-soviet political landscape, building golden monuments, renaming cities and months of year after himself or sacking ministers while «on air» addressing the nation from TV screen. But fate had ŕ different twist in hand. Having signed an agreement with Russia's natural gas monopoly Gazprom on supplies of more than 1.7 trillion m3 of the natural gas over the 25 years period, Turkmenbashi became more than a guarantee factor for Gazprom to fulfil its obligations. Since all internal and external strategy of Turkmenistan closes on a single person, he personally becomes an important factor of Russia's energy security.