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A hermit nation ruled by an egomaniac: Is Turkmenistan on the brink of collapse?

(CNN)Men in white fur caps proudly ride horses across the steppe, rows of modern machinery glisten, Barbie-pink flamingos strut before clear blue skies and a white yacht cuts through the turquoise waters of the Caspian Sea.These are idyllic scenes from a one-minute video promoting the inaugural Caspian Economic Forum, which between August 11 and 12 will see heads of state from Iran, Russia, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan descend on Awaza, a new resort town that has been touted by Turkmenistan's Foreign Ministry as the country's Las Vegas. The footage paints the picture of a happy, prosperous nation. But the reality for the 5.85 million people who live in this authoritarian hermit nation is different. Strict media controls mean that information ...
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