Turkmen President Saparmurat Niazov yesterday dismissed Defense Minister Danatar Kopekov, Army Chief of Staff Akmurat Mulkamanov, military intelligence chief Vladimir Efanov and the State Security Committee’s First Deputy Chairman Farid Atamuratov. The president also demoted the commander of border troops and other senior officers to lower ranks.
Niazov picked the Internal Affairs Minister, Kurbanmuhammed Kasymov, for the post of defense minister. There was no immediate explanation for the dismissals (Russian agencies, September 17). On September 12, a group of five soldiers deserted with their weapons, took civilian hostages and battled the troops sent in pursuit. Seven lives were lost in the incident.–VS
RUSSIA OFFERS TO TRANSIT TURKMEN OIL.