Serdar Berdymukhammedov Takes The Reins As Turkmenistan's President

Serdar Berdymukhammedov, son of long-standing autocratic Turkmen leader Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov, has taken office as president.

The younger Berdymukhammedov was sworn in as president during an inauguration ceremony at the Palace of Spirituality in the capital, Ashgabat.

"This day will become a special milestone in the history of the independent and neutral fatherland, marking the irreversibility of the democratic transformations launched in our country," the state news agency TDH said in its coverage of the event.

Turkmenistan, which is widely considered to be an authoritarian state, received Freedom House's lowest ranking in terms of democratic progress in 2020.

Serdar Berdymukhammedov's victory in a snap presidential election on March 12 came after his 64-year-old father, who came to power in late 2006, announced in February that he was stepping down to give way to "young leaders."

The next day, the country's rubber-stamp parliament set the date for the early presidential vote.

In September 2021, Serdar Berdymukhammedov turned 40, the minimum age to run for president. He ran against eight other candidates, all of whom were known for being loyal to his father, and won with nearly 73 percent of the vote.

Since the country became independent in 1991, no election in Turkmenistan has been deemed free and fair by right groups and Western election monitors.

RFE/RL correspondents reported massive violations during the March 12 vote and election campaign, including ballot substitution, voters casting multiple ballots, and pressures on voters to vote for Serdar Berdymukhammedov.

His rise to the country's highest office followed a series of promotions.

In July he was appointed deputy prime minister for economic and banking issues and for international financial organizations. He previously served as chairman of the Supreme Control Chamber and on the State Security Council.

Under Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov, living standards have plummeted despite the country sitting on the world's fourth-largest reserves of natural gas and the price for the commodity surging.