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Photograph: Freeimages.com / william schenold

The authoritarian government of Turkmenistan has said it will allow foreign diplomats to examine its prisons after criticism from human rights organizations.

The foreign ministers of Turkmenistan and Germany will make preparations for the checks, it was revealed at a meeting between German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov in Berlin on Monday.

The former soviet republic of Turkmenistan is almost as isolated as North Korea and Berdymukhamedov has a personality cult similar to the leadership in Pyongyang.

Human Rights Watch has criticized the disappearance of dozens of people in the late 1990s and early 2000s, as well as restrictions on the press and what is said were arbitrary travel bans on citizens.

Reporters Without Borders places Turkmenistan third from bottom on a freedom of the press listing of 180 countries.

Berdymukhamedov has rejected the criticism. "Nobody is disadvantaged in matters of national rights or in religious or gender issues either," he said.

The legislative process in his country guaranteed humane living conditions and a multi-party system was being developed, he said.

 

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