Days after being removed from his senior Cabinet post and his role as a key aide to Turkmenistan’s president, Palvan Taganov is reported to have been arrested.
Announcing the dismissal during the January 5 Cabinet meeting, President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov listed multiple shortcomings by Taganov, including failure to contain corruption.
CA-News website went further on January 7, reporting that Taganov has been detained on unspecified charges.
Corruption has becoming a recurring public theme in Turkmenistan as authorities seek to explain away the increasingly apparent economic malaise gripping the country.
Taganov’s brief was evidently vast and he had access to the highest echelons of power paralleled by few others in Turkmenistan.
He was simultaneously appointed deputy prime minister and administrator of the presidential apparatus and Cabinet in September 2013. The following January, his role was slightly amended to put him in charge of trade and the state commodity and raw materials exchange.
Taganov was again named chief of the presidential administration in August 2015, replacing Shamuhammed Durdyliyev, who was moved over to deal energy, construction and utilities sectors. Durdyliyev’s primary brief has been to get the capital, Ashgabat, ready for the 5th Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games in 2017, which are being touted as a international showcase for the country.
Taganov's control extended over the foreign economic relations, the chamber of industry and trade, and the union of industrialists and entrepreneurs.
So Berdymukhamedov’s criticisms suggests maladministration across a wide array of offices.
“In the ministries and departments managed by Taganov, discipline and order have weakened, and among the management of the trade and foreign economic ties ministries, we have detected instances of corruption,” he said in the televised government meeting.
The presidential order on Taganov’s dismissal cites “serious shortcoming” in his work as a motivation.
Durdyliyev has been reinstated to his position as head of the presidential administration.
Any genuine attempt by Turkmenistan to combat corruption — and there will be many that question the sincerity of such stated efforts — is fatally hindered by the government’s complete lack of transparency.
As noted on this website last week, Ashgabat has fallen short of even Uzbekistan’s efforts on this front and so far eschewed any engagement with international bodies like the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) to undertake anti-corruption programs.
Instead, Berdymukhamedov has continued the tradition establishing by his florid predecessor, Saparmurat Niyazov, in favoring demonstrative acts of public humiliation.
At a February 1 Cabinet meeting, he took one of Taganov’s former charges, deputy Trade and Foreign Economic Relations Minister Resulmyrat Meredov, to task for “serious shortcomings” and fired him on the spot. It was strongly implied that dismissal too was motivated by suspected corruption.