Vladimir Pachkov, SJ

 Vladimir Pachkov, SJ / Politics / 19 July 2021

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Turkmenistan is one of the most mysterious countries in the world. The reason is simple: it is not easily accessible to outsiders.

Although the history of civilization in the region of present-day Turkmenistan is almost as old as that of the agricultural centers of the Middle East, the Turkmen tribes – who would later come together to form the Turkmen people – began to spread here only between the 11th and 12th centuries. Between the 17th and 19th centuries, Iran and the Khanates of Khiva and Bukhara came into conflict over the control of this region. Most of the territory was subdued by the Persians, but their attempt to occupy it met with stubborn resistance from the Turkmen. This experience left deep scars in the memory of the people.

After the collapse of Persian rule, the Turkmen tribes that had migrated northward in the meantime were able to return to these regions. However, they were not left in peace and had to repel the constant attacks of the neighboring peoples of the Khanate of Khiva and the Calmucchi, a Mongolian tribe. From the second half of the 19th century the Russian Empire began its takeover of the territory. In 1881 Russian troops occupied the last fortress on the southern border of Turkmenistan. In 1924, following a successful October Revolution, the Soviet Republic of Turkmenistan was established as part of the USSR and  this remained the case until 1991. After the collapse of the Soviet Union the country became independent.[1]

In comparison with the other countries of Central Asia, which are certainly not champions of democracy, Turkmenistan is characterized as particularly traditional and conservative.

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