|07ASHGABAT1083||2007-10-09 03:42:00||UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY||Embassy Ashgabat|
VZCZCXRO3873 RR RUEHAG RUEHAST RUEHBI RUEHCI RUEHDBU RUEHDF RUEHIK RUEHLH RUEHLN RUEHLZ RUEHPW RUEHROV RUEHVK RUEHYG DE RUEHAH #1083 2820342 ZNR UUUUU ZZH R 090342Z OCT 07 FM AMEMBASSY ASHGABAT TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 9506 INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATES COLLECTIVE RUCNCLS/ALL SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA COLLECTIVE RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC RHEBAAA/DEPT OF ENERGY WASHDC RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 0672 RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA 2851 RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO 0548 RUEHIT/AMCONSUL ISTANBUL 1124 RHMFIUU/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
UNCLAS ASHGABAT 001083
1. (SBU) SUMMARY. State media gave minor coverage to the U.S.
CENTCOM visit, headed by the Commander of the U.S. Naval Forces
Central Command, Vice Admiral Kevin J. Cosgriff, September 27-28.
However, it had been believed that the visit would not be covered at
all, according to working level state media contacts. A short visit
the week before by Lieutenant General R. Steven Whitcomb was
entirely ignored, although this was likely at the behest of the
Ministry of Defense (MOD). We believe this change from the
extensive coverage given recent American visitors reflects confusion
in state media's decision making. And during the Cosgriff visit the
President and the country's top leadership - and media decisions
come from the top - were attending the UN General Assembly in New
York. END SUMMARY.
MOD AVOIDS THE SPOTLIGHT DURING WHITCOMB VISIT
2. (SBU) Post's Public Affairs Section (PAS) promoted a visit by
LTG Whitcomb on September 20 to state media contacts. During the
one-day visit Whitcomb toured a U.S.-organized medical training
program at Turkmenistan's Central Military Hospital - a visit that
would, following recent practice, generate some state media
coverage. Unfortunately, the Ministry of Defense chose not to allow
state journalists to visit and there was no coverage.
STATE MEDIA TOLD NOT TO COVER COSGRIFF'S VISIT?
3. (SBU) PAS again promoted the September 27-28 visit of
Vice-Admiral Cosgriff to state media and offered "Watan" TV news an
exclusive interview. However, state media contacts reported that
they had been instructed not to cover the visit. Given recent
positive and extensive coverage of U.S. official visitors, post was
surprised. However, on September 27, state "Watan" TV news program
aired a short announcement of the delegation's arrival to
Turkmenistan. The same day, New York-based "EurasiaNet"
(www.eurasianet.org) and Russian news agency "ITAR-TASS" (Russian),
including the Russia-based pro-government website "turkmenistan.ru"
(English, Russian), carried content similar to the "Watan" TV news
broadcast. The following day, state dailies "Neutral Turkmenistan"
(Russian, circ. 39,851) and "Turkmenistan" (Turkmen, circ. 29,091)
printed articles with similar content to the "Watan" TV news report.
In the following days, several weeklies (Turkmen) reprinted the
article. (NOTE: "Watan" re-broadcasts the same news content 3
times the following day. END NOTE.)
7. (U) COMMENT: In recent weeks, the "Watan" TV news program has
provided video coverage of all official delegations to Turkmenistan.
Despite the initial decision not to cover the Cosgriff delegation,
state media covered the visit briefly, which we believe reflects
confusion in state media's decision making. And during the Cosgriff
visit the President and the country's top leadership were attending
the UN General Assembly in New York. Thus, state media's increased
coverage of U.S. Government delegations and activities reflects
clearly a policy decision at the highest levels, rather than a
flourishing of media interest in U.S. activity. END COMMENT.