Turkmen President Kurbanguly Berdymukhamedov has freed a thousand prisoners in an amnesty, state media reported on Tuesday.
Turkmenistan's late autocratic leader, Saparmurat Niyazov, jailed many of his opponents before he died in 2006 but also introduced mass amnesties as a populist gesture in the 1990s.
While taking steps to soften some Turkmen policies, the new leader has avoided criticising Niyazov openly and has carried on with mass amnesties. Human rights groups say he also jails critics.
On Tuesday, the state Neutral Turkmenistan newspaper published a list of 990 prisoners released ahead of Flag Day, a national holiday celebrated on Feb. 19 which is also Niyazov's birthday.
Turkmenistan's total prisoner population is unclear but some rights groups say it includes a number of political prisoners.
While acknowledging some achievements, campaigners have accused Berdymukhamedov of failing to deliver on pledges to do more to free up the gas-producing nation since coming to power.
Rights groups such as Amnesty International say the authorities have continued censorship, cracked down on dissent and journalists and kept limits on access to information.
Last Mod: 17 Şubat 2009, 18:34