A newspaper as change

The Presidential decree on resuming subscription to Russian print mass media applies solely to Ministries and governmental agencies. Yet, the citizens, just like in Turkmenbashi's times, are deprived of the right to receive the foreign press.

At the same time the population is forced to buy or to subscribe to local periodicals which are virtually in no demand due to monotonous and uninspiring content.

No matter how many times Berdymukhammedov has criticized his subordinates, the content of newspapers and magazines leave much to be desired and their circulation is practically inappreciable. On the other hand, how can the President's request be fulfilled to change the policy pursued by mass media if the authorities still need to be praised and weaknesses and shortfalls need to be ignored?

Nevertheless, the circulation should be increased to improve the situation. The obligatory subscription to all local printed products which are published in the country has been imposed for many years. A certain amount is deducted from the paychecks of all employees who are on the payroll as a subscription fee for several periodicals. In many cases a family receives three copies of "Neitralny Turkmenistan" (a newspaper) and two copies of "Gurbansoltan-edje" (a magazine for women), which implies that several members of the family are employed; moreover, they may be working at different enterprises.

Yet, the initiative groups from "Turkmenpochta" (formerly, Soyuzpechat), and the Ministry of Communications in a response to President's criticism seek to invent new methods of disseminating their non-demanded products. In the meantime when paying telephone or communications bills at the "Tur?menpochta" cash offices a payer gets newspapers instead of change. For instance, instead of 500 manats one copy of "Neitralny Turkmenistan" (this is how much a copy costs) is offered. If your change amounts to 1000 manats, you will get two copies of "Neitralny Turkmenistan".

Alternatively, the shop assistants may be obliged to wrap the groceries in newspapers and charge customers a fee for packaging (500 manats each), and thus increase the circulation of the Turkmen newspapers. Yet, if the publishers are committed to making their products readable, apparently, a different approach is required - the one which has been adopted in the civilized society.

Since all the periodicals are state-owned and consequently they exuberantly praise the authorities, the country's residents are obliged to pay for the authorities' pleasure.

Source: TIHR