Turkmenistan’s National Space Agency has a new chairman, who will be expected to oversee the monumental task of launching the country’s first satellite. I’m still not entirely clear on why Turkmen dictator Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov is making this such a huge priority, for the official explanation is gobbledygook: the satellite, the nation’s state news agency tells us, will be “designed to promote the development of space technology and modern telecommunications systems and the creation of regional innovation zones.” But suffice to say that the new space tsar, Alladurdy Atayev, will be under intense pressure to get the job done, regardless of its usefulness.
If Vegas was taking bets on whether Atayev will still have his job on launch day, however, I would bet a fortune on the negative. As evidenced by his recent handling of Turkmenistan’s bread crisis, President Berdimuhamedov is not a patient man:
In response to price rises and diminished harvest, Berdymukhamedov has fired Agriculture Minister Merdan Bairamov and Association for Bread Products Chairman Yeldash Ashyrov, the State News Agency of Turkmenistan reported on July 6.
A loaf of traditional white state-baked bread that formerly cost 1 TMT (35 US cents) now sells for 1.6 TMT (58 US cents). Privately baked bread and other baked goods also went up in price 30%.
Never mind that such price fluctuations are probably attributable to such uncontrollable factors as climate, demand, and transportation costs. Like most dictators who surround themselves with obsequious dolts, Berdymukhamedov seems incapable of grasping complexity. Which makes me think he will be none-too-pleased when he inevitably hears that his precious satellite might be slightly harder to launch and operate than his private jet.