She was living in in Kansas, in the United States, at the time of this interview.

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According to Human Rights Watch, "Turkmenistan remains one of the world’s most repressive countries.

The country is virtually closed to independent scrutiny, media and religious freedoms are subject to draconian restrictions, and human rights defenders and other activists face the constant threat of government reprisal." Historically inhabited by the Indo-Iranians, the written history of Turkmenistan begins with its annexation by the Achaemenid Empire of Ancient Iran.

Turkmenistan has been at the crossroads of civilizations for centuries.

In medieval times, Merv was one of the great cities of the Islamic world and an important stop on the Silk Road, a caravan route used for trade with China until the mid-15th century.

Although Turkmenistan was ill-prepared for independence and communist leader Saparmurad Niyazov preferred to preserve the Soviet Union, in October 1991 the fragmentation of that entity forced him to call a national referendum that approved independence.

On December 26, 1991, the Soviet Union ceased to exist.

Berdimuhamedov has ruled Turkmenistan since 2006, after taking over from his predecessor Saparmurat Niyazov, who remained in power until his death.

The president recently asked parliament to extend the presidential term to seven years and remove the upper age limit of presidential candidates, in a move that many consider a bid to set himself up to govern indefinitely.

As has been tradition since 2013, the Turkmen leader—called Arkadag (Protector) by state media—will mark March 8 by adding 40 manat to the salaries of all women, paying them out of the state budget between March 1 and March 5.