Creating a favourable image

It is common to conceal the internal problems beneath the external glitter and accomplishments. This is being done, inter alia, by means of mass media established for these purposes.

The readers in the post-Soviet countries are familiar with an interesting edition – the international magazine "Turkmenstan". Although the magazine is devoted entirely to Turkmenistan, its title defines it as international.

Perhaps, it is considered international since it is published in foreign languages: Russian and English? Or because it is designed not for internal readers but for foreigners?

Its content is very much similar to that of domestic press. Its publications have much in common with sugary sweet stories of the Turkmen state news agency "Turkmendovlethabarlary". Local journalists note an odd detail: the topics covered in the magazine are not allowed to be used by other mass media inside the country.

The staff members of this glossy magazine enjoy a number of privileges as opposed to other Turkmen editions. They receive visas from Turkmenistan to any country without obstacles and represent Turkmen journalism at international meetings of the Turkmen government. At the same time, almost no one of them holds the Turkmen citizenship.

As is indicated in the magazine, it is being distributed among diplomatic missions and international and governmental organizations and establishments, in major business centres of Moscow and Ashgabat as well as at the flights of Russian and Turkmen airlines.

The edition is registered in Russian (2005) though de facto is financed by the Turkmen authorities.

According to our information, this edition is being patronized by Viktor Mikhailovich Khramov, assistant of Turkmenistan's President. He has been responsible for the issues related to the creation of a positive image of the dictatorship since the Niyazov`s era. Certainly, it is hard to create a positive image for a dictatorial state; however, the Turkmen authorities appear to be satisfied with Mr. Khramov`s job.

Recently, to assist the magazine, Russian TV channels air a video ad about Turkmenistan inviting the TV viewers to our country.

Yet, strange as it may seem, the readers of "Turkmenistan" (according to the magazine, influential Russian businessmen) do not hasten to invest money in Turkmenistan. Nor do the Russian TV viewers queue at the Turkmen Embassy in Moscow to take visas for a travel to our wonderful land. Furthermore, it remains a big problem to receive a visa to our country.

Apparently, both are well aware that it is easily to present the situation from a positive side; however, to make it true in reality is still too much for the Turkmen authorities.

Meanwhile, the Turkmen authorities continue to spend huge money for the creation of a favourable image of the country abroad. This is common for totalitarian states.

Source: TIHR