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What's in a name? Months get old names back in Turkmenistan

Turkmenistan's president has abolished the calendar introduced by his late predecessor, who named months after himself and his parents, state media reported Thursday.

Turkmenistan's president has abolished the calendar introduced by his late predecessor, who named months after himself and his parents, state media reported Thursday.

President Gurbanguli Berdymukhamedov said at a government session Wednesday that he was abolishing Saparmurat Niyazov's calendar and returning to the Gregorian calendar widely used throughout the world.

"Names of months and days have to comply with international standards," Berdymukhamedov said at a government session, the state-run Neutralny Turkmenistan newspaper reported.

In 2002, Niyazov, who ruled for 21 years, named months after himself, his parents and his book, Rukhnama, which combines epic history, moral teachings and state policy.

He made the book obligatory for students and government officials, and named Saturday the Rukhnama Day.

Other months and days were named after symbols of Turkmenistan's independence and prominent figures in Turkmen history.

Parliament speaker Akdzha Nurberdyeva said in comments televised Thursday that the renaming proposal "was supported by thousands of letters from workers."   

During his rule, Niyazov tapped the country's vast energy wealth for outlandish projects — a theme park based on Turkmen folk art and fairy tales; a giant, man-made lake in the Kara Kum desert; and a vast cypress forest aimed at changing the desert climate.  

Niyazov died in 2006, but his golden statues and busts are still scattered across the country and his portrait is on every bank note and coin.

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