Photoshop is very complicated. The design and editing program, the latest version of which costs $661, comes with hundreds of pages of instructions and can be studied in weeks-long training seminars or on the many online communities dedicated to exploring its powerful functions. So perhaps struggling Photoshop users will be sympathetic to the "presidents" (who are suspiciously dictatorial) of Turkmenistan, who have struggled for years to convincingly photoshop themselves into the government's notoriously over-the-top propaganda materials. In 2005, Registan's Nathan Hamm pointed out these somewhat ridiculous photos distributed by then-President Saparmurat "Turkmenbashi" Niyazov.
Hamm mused, "Oh, which direction to go with this one? Possibly a comment on the fact that Turkmenbashi is so wonderful he glows with an inner light that makes him look almost pastel? Or maybe reminisce about that time President Bush was presented with a lifesize animatronic Turkmenbashi?"
Five years later, current President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow appears to still be running Niyazov's same version of Photoshop. Russian news agency Ferghana's Mariya Yanovskaya reviews a new book about Berdimuhamedow, whom she calls "Turkmenistan’s brightest son, the leader of the Turkmen Renaissance, a great man, who bears responsibility for the fate of his people." Her review includes this obviously fake image from the book, among others:
Hamm, who found the strange review, sees great possibilities for Turkmenistan's use of Photoshop as a governmental tool. "With the ability to project the president into any situation, all they need are a few imagineering specialists for Berdimuhammedov to carry on the Turkmen Renaissance for centuries into the future."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.