Former Turkmen Minister, Government Critic In Custody

A former senior official in Turkmenistan who became a vocal critic of the current government has been arrested.

Geldimyrat Nurmuhammedov, 59, had been Turkmenistan's minister of tourism and culture from 1992 to 1995.

His relatives say officials have formally declared that he is a drug-addict who must be isolated.

Relatives say Nurmuhammedov will be transferred to a drug-rehabilitation center in the remote province of Dashoguz for up to six months.

Drug addiction is officially punishable in Turkmenistan.

Last year, in an interview with RFE/RL, Nurmuhammedov harshly criticized Turkmenistan’s government and called the ruling Democratic Party of Turkmenistan illegal.

Authorities shut down Nurmuhammedov's private business in the capital after his critical statements.