[TR News] Turkmenistan celebrates 25 years of USSR breakup, pardons 1,500 prisoners

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Turkmenistan’s President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov has pardoned more than 1,500 prisoners as the gas-rich country celebrates 25 years of independence from the USSR, state television reported Saturday.

“On the occasion of the 25th anniversary of Turkmenistan’s independence, 1,523 citizens are being released from prison,” television reported.

Such amnesties are held several times a year to coincide with major public holidays in Turkmenistan, one of the world’s most tightly controlled countries.

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The latest pardons were linked to upcoming celebrations on October 27 and 28 of 25 years since the Central Asian country left the Soviet Union.

State television reported that the president had asked local government officials to help those pardoned find jobs.

This is the fourth mass pardoning by the president of the isolated Central Asian country this year, according to official information. Previous amnesties this year released 2,950 people, including 26 foreigners.

Turkmenistan’s prison system is one of the most secretive in the world and international organisations are not able to gain access inside jails.

Prisoners convicted of drug offences, murder or treason are not eligible for pardons in the country, where the death penalty was outlawed in 1999.

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Rancy Jay

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