Of all the strange dictators in the world, few stand out more than Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, the "President" of Turkmenistan. Though mostly obscure, he has occasionally made headlines in America, most notably when he was featured in a "Last Week Tonight with John Oliver" episode. Can you answer these questions about this eccentric figure?
Keep scrolling down for answers and more stats ...
Before becoming dictator, this was Berdimuhamedow's occupation, a profession that involves treating conditions related to the teeth and mouth.
Berdimuhamedow became Turkmenistan's Minister of this in 1997, serving under Saparmurat Niyazov, another eccentric dictator who, among other things, erected a 39 foot statue of himself that turned to face the Sun, banned Internet cafes, and changed the Turkmen word for bread to his mother's name. As Minister of this, Berdimuhamedow was ordered by Niyazov to oversee the closing of all hospitals outside the capital, Ashgabat.
Berdimuhamedow became dictator in 2007. Since then, he's stayed in power by rigging elections. In the most recent Presidential election in 2017, he claims to have won this percentage of the national vote (round to the nearest whole number).
Berdimuhamedow often goes by the title "Arkadag," which is the Turkmen translation of this word. Hint: You can buy a "screen" version of this for your phone!
Berdimuhamedow loves animals! In 2017, he gave Putin the Central Asian Shepherd breed of this animal for his birthday (which Putin is also known for being fond of). More recently, he erected a statue of one in Ashgabat.
By far, however, Berdimuhamedow's favorite animal is the Akhal-Teke, a variety of this animal found in Turkmenistan. Along with being frequently pictured riding on it (remind you perhaps of another animal-riding dictator?), he has written poems, books, and songs about it. He also owns about 10% of the global population of Akhal-Tekes and has gone as far as making it illegal to rename them after they have been named once.
In a rather strange incident that happened in 2013, Berdimuhamedow fell off the animal mentioned above during a race. Immediately, dozens of men in black suits swarmed around him. While footage of the video leaked, it was censored heavily. Despite his fall, Berdimuhamedow was awarded this place in the competition.
In 2018, Berdimuhamedow came out with a video of this musical genre, in which he sang with his grandson about sports (see below) and the Akhal-Teke. Other videos of him have shown him DJing and playing the guitar, and he has reportedly written many songs.
You know what else Berdimuhamedow loves? Sports! One of his favorite pastimes is riding this two-wheeled vehicle. He loves it so much that, in 2013, he declared a national holiday on which the entire population of Turkmenistan was expected to purchase and ride the vehicle.
Berdimuhamedow has an obsession with this record book, and has made it a priority to make Turkmenistan achieve as many records as possible. Some of these records include the highest concentration of white marble-clad buildings, the most fountain pools in a public space, the world's largest indoor Ferris Wheel, the most people singing in the round (with the song penned by, you guessed it, Berdimuhamedow), and the largest awareness lesson for the pastime mentioned above.
Guinness Book of World Records
As part of a publicity stunt, Berdimuhamedow lifted a golden weight bar during a Cabinet meeting. As he did so, the entire Cabinet synchronously did this action.
Berdimuhamedow is the head of Turkmenistan's committee for this global sporting event. Despite this, when Turkmenistan's athletes failed to win any medals at the event in 2016, Berdimuhamedow said they "betrayed the motherland" and threatened to sack the Sports Minister.
In 2013, this American actress and singer sparked controversy when she was paid $1 million to hold a private concert for Berdimuhamedow (she later apologized). Her manager claimed Berdimuhamedow pressured her into singing "Happy Birthday" to him.
Hint: She more recently sang at Joe Biden's inauguration.
Berdimuhamedow believes that this color is lucky, as his palace, his limousines, and most of the marble-clad buildings in Ashgabat are this color. In 2018, Berdimuhamedow issued a decree dictating that all cars must be painted this color.
In 2019, after not being seen for several days, opponents of Berdimuhamedow living abroad released rumors that he had died. The reports quickly spread in Russian papers. Eventually, the rumors were revealed to be false, with the government claiming that Berdimuhamedow was visiting his mother in Germany. When Berdimuhamedow reappeared, one of the first things he did was drive doughnuts in his rally car right on the edge of the Darvaza Gas Crater, a deep hole that has been continuously burning for decades. The Darvaza Gas Crater is also known as this.
Gates of Hell
The government of Turkmenistan has officially reported no cases of this disease. Despite this, Turkmenistan has adopted strict mask mandates, has closed its borders with other countries, and even set up a quarantine zone in the city of Turkmenabat, suggesting this disease is indeed present in the country. The strangest policy that Berdimuhamedow has adopted is mandatory fumigation of homes and offices with yuzarlik, a Turkmen herbal remedy, despite the fact that there is no evidence this does anything to treat the disease.
Like his predecessor Niyazov, Berdimuhamedow is fond of erecting giant statues. One of the most famous is a statue of himself riding an Akhal-Teke on a white marble cliff. Though the statues are made of bronze, they are coated in this metal.
To end on a more serious note, while Berdimuhamedow may seem silly and downright weird, he is also very autocratic and has been responsible for many human rights violations, such as enforced disappearances, coerced labor, and extreme censorship. According to Freedom House, Turkmenistan has a score of "2" in terms of freedom (where 0 is least democratic and 100 is most democratic). What is the only country that has a lower score than Turkmenistan?