(BuzzFeed News) As countries around the world continued to encourage their people to stick to strict social distancing measures in an effort to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus, Turkmenistan’s president ordered hundreds, if not thousands, of his citizens to take part in National Horse Day events — starring himself and his rare steeds.
Celebrated on April 26, the events, led by authoritarian Gurbanguly Berdimukhammedov, included a race at a packed equestrian sports complex near the capital of Ashgabat, an annual horse beauty contest, and horse dancing performances, according to state and opposition media reports. [...]
“All medical data is doctored,” Sebastien Peyrouse, a research professor at George Washington University whose focus is Central Asia and who is well-sourced inside Turkmenistan, told BuzzFeed News.
In recent weeks, when someone there has tested positive for COVID-19, “they just don’t diagnose it, they diagnose them with pneumonia,” a common symptom of the coronavirus, Peyrouse said. [...]
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