Absolute leader's name dropped from Turkmenistan's anthem

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ASHGABAT, Turkmenistan -– All references to Saparmurat Niyazov, the late autocratic leader of Turkmenistan, have been dropped from the Central Asian state's national anthem.

The parliament adopted a law changing the anthem Monday...

In the revised anthem, all three references to "Turkmenbashi" -- Niyazov's title meaning "the head of all Turkmens" -- have been replaced with "the people," according to a text of the revised anthem obtained by Reuters.

The change is part of President Kurbanguly Berdymukhamedov's campaign to expunge the legacy of Niyazov's 21-year ironfisted rule during which he surrounded himself with an elaborate personality cult.

Berdymukhamedov already has reversed other policies of Niyazov, who died in 2006, such as renaming months after his relatives, banning opera and closing hospitals everywhere, except in the capital Ashgabat.

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