Police in Turkmenistan have begun inspecting public and private toilets across the country for evidence of photos of president Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov being used as toilet paper.
It sounds like news you would only expect to read on a satire news website like The Onion, but this is Turkmenistan president we’re talking about here, the same country that earlier this year banned black cars because its president loves white, so this is sadly painfully true. After news started going around that people were using bits of newspaper with the president’s face on them as toilet paper, police and landfill workers were ordered to look for evidence of this unusual offence and issue warnings that such behavior could have serious consequences.
According to a recent article in Fergana, a Moscow-based news site known for its credible coverage of Turkmen affairs, it all started at the end of last year, when several children in the northern city of Dashoguz were detained and tried for damaging portraits of president Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov. In one case, students at the city’s school no. 45 trampled on a photo of the president, and in another, children at another school used a pen to draw a mustache and beard on a portrait of Berdymukhammedov.
Those incidents didn’t involve butt wiping, but they did prompt an investigation which eventually revealed that the use of newspapers with the president’s face on them as toilet paper was quite common. While inspecting another Dashoguz school for similar defiling of the president’s photos, police found bits of newspaper – some of which had Berdymukhammedov’s face on them – used as toilet paper in the school toilet. The director was fired, and an ample investigation into this practice began. It has reportedly led to the dismissal of several civil servants.
Apart from police officers inspecting both public and household toilets for incriminating evidence of defiling president Berdymukhammedov’s portrait, staff at landfills all over western Turkmenistan were instructed to be on the lookout for soiled pictures of the country’s supreme leader.
Photo: Kremlin.ru Press Service
“There is a special janitor at each landfill site whose job is to inspect garbage, to look for soiled newspaper photos, to establish the house or flat of the newspaper subscriber and to report it to the police,” Fergana.ru reports.
Here’s the interesting bit, though. Alternativnnyy Novosti Turkmenistana reports that due to an ongoing economic crisis currently plaguing Turkmenistan, many people tend to use newspapers to wipe themselves rather than spending money on toilet paper. And since pictures of Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov dominate most of the pages of national newspapers, it’s actually difficult not to soil them.