Turkmenistan's autocratic leader, Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov, staged an elaborate ceremony last week to unveil a monument for his favorite breed of dog, the nationally revered alabai. The gold-leaf 19-foot statue of the central Asian shepherd dog is the centerpiece of a busy roundabout in the country's capital, Ashgabat. Berdymukhamedov has ruled Turkmenistan since the 2006 death of the nation’s last president-for-life who ran the former Soviet Republic for 21 years
Class discussion: What do you think of a this central Asian autocrat building a huge statue of a dog? What about him also putting up a much bigger gilded statue of himself sitting on his horse? What do these monuments say this leader’s ego and power? Is it common for authoritarian rulers to glorify themselves with monuments or parades? Turkmenistan became an independent nation after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991. What other former Soviet Republics have ended up with autocratic leaders?