April 10, 2017

ASHGABAT, Turkmenistan (AP) Turkmenistan has made a song performed by its authoritarian president the anthem of an international sports competition.

President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov performed the patriotic song Friday before an audience of international sports officials while unveiling an ice arena in the gas-rich ex-Soviet Central Asian nation.

The government daily Neutral Turkmenistan reported Monday that a meeting of top government officials, lawmakers and cultural figures has decided to make it the official anthem of the 2017 Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games set for September.

Berdymukhamedov has ruled Turkmenistan since late 2006 following the death of his autocratic predecessor.

The president has established an elaborate personality cult, with state media regularly showing his prowess in an array of physical disciplines, including horse riding, racing cars, cycling and lifting weights.

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