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08ASHGABAT1062 2008-08-14 13:33:00 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Ashgabat
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1. (U) Sensitive but unclassified. Not for public Internet.

2. (SBU) In line with usual practices, Turkmenistan's
state-controlled news media has been almost entirely silent on the
war in Georgia. However, the August 14 edition of the Turkmen
language "Watan" newspaper carried a short article about French
President Sarkozy's visit to Moscow in order to discuss the military
actions in South Ossetia. The article appears to have been
developed from Russian media outlets as it also noted that Russian
President Medvedev had announced his decision to force the Georgian
government to a peaceful resolution, and that "we (Russia)
accomplished our goal." Little other detail was provided. "Watan"
is a national paper, but with low subscription compared to others.
The paper cited "world mass-media" as the source for the story.

3. (SBU) Turkmenistan's state-controlled news media rarely reports
on international events that constitute "real news." Most
international stories are vague, neutral items usually connected to
science, technology and culture. The occasional reference to "hard
news" from abroad appears to fit a pattern established in the last
years of former President Niyazov, which was to highlight the
instability of other countries, in contrast to "calm" Turkmenistan.
State news over the August 8-10 weekend ignored the Georgian
conflict and focused on Turkmenistan's melon day festivities

13. (SBU) COMMENT: Turkmenistan's media is state-controlled. It
focuses on items of greatest import to the government and conveys
those messages that the government wants to get out. Much of the
population gets its international news from Russian TV, and no doubt
is well aware of Russia's version of the events in Georgia.
Nevertheless, the state press of "permanently neutral" Turkmenistan
would much rather focus on melon day or who met with the president
the day before than war in the Caucasus. END COMMENT.