Turkmenistan’s president unveils giant golden statue of his favourite dog breed

Turkmenistan’s president unveiled a giant golden statue of his favourite dog breed in the capital Ashgabat this week.

President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov unveiled the 19 feet statue of the Alabay dog.

The Alabay is a home-bred Turkmen variety of the Central Asian shepherd dog and is listed under the country’s national heritage.

The statue is located in a residential area designed for civil servants, according to Eurasianet.

It features an LED screen with video footage of the breed in various situations. It’s unclear how much the statue cost to construct.

It isn’t the first time the breed has been honoured by the president – last year he devoted a book to the Alabay.

Back in 2015, a golden statue of the president riding a horse was unveiled.

Mr Berdymukhamedov has occasionally given a horse or a puppy to leaders of “friendly” nations, and among the recipients of such gifts were the late Uzbek President Islam Karimov, Russia’s Vladimir Putin, and the Qatari emir.

Mr Berdymukhamedov was criticised for his handling of the dog he gave Mr Putin after a video of the incident went viral in 2017. He took it by the neck and held it in the air.

Despite the grandeur of the statue, much of Turkmenistan’s population is impoverished. The country is ranked one of the least free in the world by press freedom organisation RSF, just one place above North Korea.