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Autotuned autocrat: Turkmen leader croons Christmas song

Ashgabat, 23 December 2018 (MIA) – Turkmenistan’s President, accused by rights groups of heading one of the world’s most repressive regimes, encouraged citizens to “play the tune of love” in a self-penned Christmas song performed on state television, AFP reports.

Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov sat behind a white piano for the Eurovision-style clip while his 14-year-old grandson accompanied him on synths in the video also released online.

“With its beautiful melody and heartfelt words, the song penetrated deep into the soul of all listeners, leaving strong impressions,” an announcer on the Turkmen Owazy channel said Saturday.

The song, “Dream” was performed in English, Turkmen and German, and contained the line, “let our hearts play the tune of love,” as well as references to the “circle of life”.

Berdymukhamedov, wearing a brown suit, smiled to the camera as cartoon snowflakes fell on a screen behind him.

The president’s relatives are rarely shown on state television, despite Berdymukhamedov’s son Serdar serving as a lawmaker and deputy foreign minister.

Favourite grandson Kerimguly, who is the son of the president’s daughter, is a notable exception.

State media has in the past shown him performing other songs with his grandfather and also competing in and winning prestigious horse races.

Berdymukhamedov took over after the death of his eccentric predecessor Saparmurat Niyazov who renamed months after family members and erected a revolving golden statue of himself.

Berdymukhamedov has echoed many of his predecessor’s authoritarian tactics and is also honoured with a golden statue in capital Ashgabat.

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