Turkmenistan’s president ends welfare subsidies


ASHGABAT, Turkmenistan (AP) – Turkmenistan’s president has ordered an end to free natural gas, electricity and water, which residents of the ex-Soviet nation have enjoyed for a quarter century.

Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov said the move would encourage a more rational use of the Central Asian nation’s resources. Tuesday’s move comes as the gas-rich desert nation has faced economic troubles because of a slump in global energy prices.

Berdymukhamedov has ruled Turkmenistan since 2006, when he assumed power after the death of his autocratic predecessor. He has established an elaborate personality cult of his own.

The Turkmen parliament revised the nation’s constitution to set up the People’s Council that will take over key legislative functions. At the same time, another organ, the Council of Elders, named Berdymukhamedov the Hero of Turkmenistan for the second time.