Lou Costello, Uncensored

by Nathan Hamm on 5/12/2005 · 2 comments

Lou Costello Turkmenbashi (you might as well bone up if you missed this, it’ll probably turn into a running joke) was pretty unrestrained at the CIS Summit in Moscow. RFE/RL has a brief summary of his antics, but Kommersant has the best dirt (via Blogrel). He really seems to have something against Kazakhstan’s president.

But what couldn’t you say about him? He seems to be prepared for anything from the journalists and he said all the right things about the CIS. The tapes of the meeting were erased somehow. It was a real shame. Everyone knows that every word Turkmenbashi says is golden. Every Russian official that could be found refused to comment on it. When I found Ukrainian officials who were willing to comment on it, I understood why the Russians refused.

First of all, Turkmenbashi decided to comment on why the CIS was founded to begin with. He told about how the leader of the former Soviet republics met together (“They went to him,” Turkmenb. said, joylessly pointing at Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev). They gabbed a lot but didn’t say anything about anything important, according to Turkmenb. But then suddenly Nazarbaev and Yeltsin got up and left together. Turkmenb. was amazed but kept face. They were gone for two hours, which amazed him even more, although he didn’t let it show. When they came back, they suggested that everyone sign an agreement on a Commonwealth of Independent States. Turkmenb. was astounded already, but didn’t let it show and sign the document any way.

The president of Kazakhstan smartly let that story go without comment.

It was clear any way that, while everyone else sat quietly, Turkmenb. came up with a number of complaints. It seems that, even now, he cannot sleep at night because, about two years ago, they had elected Leonid Kuchma president of the CIS.

“Ukraine isn’t a member of the CIS at all,” cried Turkmenb. “As if anyone doesn’t know that already! But they made him the chairman any way. It’s obvious why the elections went into the ground for him. So where is he now with his elections?”

Then the Turkmenistan president called attention once again to the president of Kazakhstan and he began to speak about natural gas.

“So who should I cooperate with here?” he asked. “With them, or what?” He pointed to Nazarbaev.

“Yes, you have all the capacity and all the infrastructure,” he said. “Of the last century! It would be better for me to seek out other markets and other partners.”

Actually, the entire article is a hoot to read. There’s a lot of “Bush & Putin are best frendz 4ever!” stuff in it. And for those who have always been curious about why the two are so close, RFE/RL’s quote of the day today may shed some light on it.

“Once the Baltic countries became part of the USSR in 1939 (sic), the Soviet Union could not possibly occupy them in 1941 (sic), because they were part of it. Maybe I wasn’t such a good student at the university because I drank too much beer in my spare time, but I still remember something, you see, I still have something in my head. We had good teachers.”

— Russian President Vladimir Putin on 10 May in Moscow in response to a question from an Estonian reporter about the Soviet occupation of the Baltic states.

Emphasis mine to highlight that both of them liked to get their slant on in their younger days.

And to bring this back around, has anyone else noticed that Lou Turkmenbashi dresses an awful lot like Detective Sipowicz?

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– author of 2991 posts on 17_PersonNotFound.

Nathan is the founder and Principal Analyst for Registan, which he launched in 2003. He was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Uzbekistan 2000-2001 and received his MA in Central Asian Studies from the University of Washington in 2007. Since 2007, he has worked full-time as an analyst, consulting with private and government clients on Central Asian affairs, specializing in how socio-cultural and political factors shape risks and opportunities and how organizations can adjust their strategic and operational plans to account for these variables. More information on Registan's services can be found here, and Nathan can be contacted via Twitter or email.

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Katy May 12, 2005 at 10:04 am

Turkmenbashi is one of my favorites. Last year I had a student from Turkmenistan (I work with high school exchange students from Eurasia http://www.flexvermont.org) and she had a Turkmenistan coffeetable book. His photo was on every page.

This student is attending university in the US now… I’d love for her to do some write ups about Turkmenistan.

jonathan p May 12, 2005 at 10:34 am

What a fun read that Kommersant article was!

“God, what a big country!” Bush said.


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