Turkmen dictator's book-shaped building: $17M of irony.

The "House of Free Creativity" in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan cost $17 million to build. President Saparmurat Niyazov inaugurated the book-shaped edifice today, and it will house media organizations. What's funny here is that the press in that Central Asian nation is anything but free: internet access, newspapers, TV, radio, and other forms of communication are controlled by the state, routinely monitored and censored by Niyazov's regime which is known for a legacy of human rights abuses. The country is #3 on the CPJ's list of most-censored nations. Here's the Moscow Times story on the wacky building: Link. Image: AP.

Reader comment: Rich says,

The City Hochhaus/MDR tower in Leipzig is also designed to look like an open book. Of course it was designed and built in DDR/pre-unification East Germany, a country not known for its free and open exchange of ideas. Link.

Brian Baglow says,

Love the new book shaped building in Turkmenistan. But I thought I'd point you towards to wikipedia page for the truly freaky president of the country 'Turkmenbashi', who's not just your regular dictator, but an oddball of almost Bushian proportions. In addition to suggesting people chew bones to strengthen their teeth, he has a gold statue of himself which revolves to face the sun and has decreed that anyone reading his book/s of poetry will automatically go to heaven. The country/government's own website can be found here.

Mike V. says,

As an Update to the Turkmenbashi book building story you might want to show readers how much this glorious building resembles the Derek Zoolander School For Kids Who Can't Read Good And Want To Be Able To Read.