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Turkmenistan's president goes '80s action movie hero in new anti-ISIS propaganda film
Turkmenistan President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow's latest propaganda film, meant to intimidate Islamic State fighters, has him displaying his military prowess with mastery of firearms, throwing knives, and tactical command. (Image source: Chronicles of Turkmenistan screenshot)

Turkmenistan's president goes '80s action movie hero in new anti-ISIS propaganda film

Turkmenistan President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow has filmed an incredible anti-ISIS propaganda video, in which he straps on military gear, and demonstrates his proficiency with firearms, throwing knives, and military leadership while music from Arnold Schwarzenegger's 1985 action movie "Commando" plays in the background.

The video, created by Turkmenistan's state-run news agency Altyn Asyr Ykdysadyyeti, was meant as anti-ISIS propaganda effort. It was soon picked up by opposition news outlet Chronicles of Turkmenistan, and edited to make Berdiumuhamedow's display of machismo seem ridiculous.

The video began with a truck speeding down a dirt road. The scene then cuts to clips of Arnold Schwarzenegger's scene in "Commando" where he is gearing up for battle, finishing with Berdimuhamedow stepping down out of the driver's side of the truck. Berdimuhamedow is seen wearing commando gear, and sunglasses.

Awaiting him were what looked like regular soldiers eager to learn from their leader, but according to Eurasianet were in fact "the heads of the military, police, security services, prosecutor’s office and customs service, among others."

Berdimuhamedow then demonstrated his mastery of firearms, utilizing both a rifle and a pistol with pinpoint accuracy at targets a short distance away. These displays of marksmanship received a round of applause from his admiring onlookers.

“Picking up one of the weapons presented to him, the head of state demonstrated the precision of his aim, which served as evidence of his high level of military preparedness,” said the Chronicle of Turkmenistan in the video, according to Eurasianet's translation.

Turkmenistan's president then moved on to throwing knives, where he demonstrated his ability to peg his target with every throw, earning him even more applause.

“After that, the president demonstrated his mastery of target-shooting with a pistol,” the agency said, “then demonstrated his skills in the artful handling of knives by precisely casting daggers at a distant target,” continued the text.

The scene then cuts to Berdimuhamedow demonstrating his tactical skills, as he appears to command his troops over the radio. The video shows attack helicopters firming missiles, and teams of Humvees swooping in on a lone white truck as the president looks on through binoculars. After this, the scene cuts to Berdimuhamedow signing his range targets to even more applause.

This is not the first propaganda film made by Berdimuhamedow. In January, the Turkmen president visited workers at a factory, where he demonstrated his music prowess with a reportedly self-written song. Berdimuhamedow plays guitar and sings in the video, accompanied on backup vocals by... himself.


Turkmenistan is in Central Asia, and one of the most isolated states in the world, rivaled only by North Korea.

Burdimuhamedow was a former dentist, but became health minister during his predecessor Saparmurat Niyazov's presidency. According to the Guardian, Niyazov was known for his eccentric decrees, such as renaming days and months after himself and his mother. Schools and universities had mandatory classes to study the Ruhnama, Niyazov’s book.

Additionally, all of his minsters were forced to complete a kilometer long "walk of health" in the blazing heat. Niyazov himself would not do the walk, but instead would take a helicopter to the finish line, where he greeted his ministers.

When Burdimuhamedow took over in 2006 after Niyazov's death, he dismantled much of the personality cult the former president had set up, and began to create his own. This included erecting a golden statue of himself that looks over the Turkmenistan capitol of Ashgabat, and the state-run media propaganda films seen above.

Burdimuhamedow reportedly has cameras following him wherever he goes, including into the gym where he donned a green tracksuit and underwent training with his ministers.

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