First after Putin and Medvedev: Turkmenistan president visits “plough feast” in Kazan
Unlike Russian presidents, he was official
Sabantuy 2019 in Kazan got a special status thanks to Turkmenistan President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow’s visit. A country’s president last was at the “plough feast” in the capital of Tatarstan in 2011 — it was Dmitry Medvedev. And Vladimir Putin came in 2000, at the very beginning of his first presidential term. That visit was remembered particularly for the traditional competition where one has to catch a coin in a bowl with sour milk Putin participated in. The participants of Sabantuy 2019 seemed to expect something similar from the president of Turkmenistan who is famous as, for instance, an author and performer of rap songs. But his visit to the holiday was as official as possible. More is in Realnoe Vremya’s report.
Not only Tatar culture’s holiday
As head of the Federal Agency for Ethnic Affairs Igor Barinov noted on 23 June, Sabantuy is a trademark of the Tatars. However, incrustations of Turkmenistan’s cultures were added to Tatar cultural elements on the main site of the “plough feast” in the Birch Grove in Mirny settlement in Kazan. President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, who was in Kazan on a business trip, was welcomed at the gates of the site with Tatar national chak-chak and Tatar dance, a performance of a Turkmen band followed it. There was a part of Turkmenistan among the farmsteads the site was divided into and bore names of Tatarstan districts.
The president of Turkmenistan arrived at the festival accompanied by quite a numerous retinue. Not only functionaries who could be distinguished among those from Tatar at a distance: unlike blue jackets that are popular among our VIPs, the guests from Turkmenistan wear only black; a big group of artists of over 50 people also came to Kazan.
Moreover, there were athletes among the guests. For instance, the guests were given a chance to see the difference of Tatar national wrestling kuresh from Turkmen belt wrestling when two matches — between Tatarstan and Turkmenistan fighters — were on closely located arenas.
Berdimuhamedow and Minnikhanov agree on creation of consulate general and supply of KAMAZ lorries
Though the appearance of the head of Turkmenistan at Sabantuy was expected at about 11 in the morning, the high-ranking guest arrived at the festival at about 1 p.m. Perhaps this is explained by his busy business agenda in the first half of the day. Berdimuhamedow together with Tatarstan President Rustam Minnikhanov visited an exhibition of Tatarstan industrial products at the airport where he was welcomed by top officials of the republic and, according to his status, militaries of silent drill platoon.
Exhibits of this exposition were also in the centre of attention during Minnikhanov and Berdimuhamedow’s bilateral meeting. According to the agreements signed at this meeting, about 2,000 KAMAZ lorries will be supplied to Turkmenistan. Memorandums of understanding between Türkmennebit national concern and Tatneft PJSC and between Türkmenhimiýa national concern and KER-Holding MC were signed at this meeting, as well as a number of agreements on cooperation of educational institutions.
A decision to open Turkmenistan’s consulate general in Tatarstan became an important result of the talks. The proposal was made by Minnikhanov, Berdimuhamedow approved the idea and offered to increase the number of flights between Tatarstan and Turkmenistan in answer to it.
“Russian-Turkmen relations are based on strategic partnership. Long-term cooperation, historical and linguistic similarity, cultural traditions, high level of trust and mutual understanding unite Tatarstan and Turkmenistan,” Rustam Minnikhanov commented on the visit of Turkmenistan’s delegation at Sabantuy.
Turkmenistan president didn’t participate in contests
Sabantuy in Tatarstan has taken place together with high-ranking guests in the last years. Last year, for instance, it was FIFA General Coordinator Anthony Baffoe and FIFA Commissar Stefano Pucci. However, the last team a president of a country visited the “plough feast” in Tatarstan was as early as 2000 — it was President of Russia Vladimir Putin.
That visit was remembered for long, including because Putin actively participated in traditional entertainments of the festival. He visited horse races, participated in arm-wrestling and even in the traditional contest where one looks for a coin in a bowl with sour milk without hands.
Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, on the other hand, personifies the rule “a talented person has a talent for everything”. For instance, he is famous for a rap performance about a horse together with his grandson Kerimogly. There are other videos on the Internet dedicated to the Turkmenistan president’s leisure time: how he strikes in bowling or gives militaries a masterclass in shooting and knife throwing. In this light, Sabantuy participants expected Berdimuhamedow to follow Putin’s example and participate in something similar. But in the expectation of the VIP guests, the hosts of the concert even discussed which competition Berdimuhamedow would like.
However, the visit was as official as possible. Berdimuhamedow in company with Rustam Minnikhanov and State Adviser of Tatarstan Mintimer Shaimiyev simply walked along the central path and visited just Kukmor’s farmstead and stopped by Turkmenistan’s farmstead. He didn’t deliver a speech in front of Sabantuy participants and departed shortly after Turkmen bands’ performances.