We’ve written before about Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov, the President of Turkmenistan, and not in flattering ways. He’s a clinically batshit oppressive despot who has banned women from driving and made black cars illegal, and is generally a power-mad insecure clown. I’m not a huge fan. That said, I do have to admit that proving to people that you’re not dead by driving donuts around what appears to be a flaming pit leading to Hell is a pretty baller move.
The footage of Berdimuhamedov driving around the fiery chasm was part of a 25-minute video about what the President has been up to other than dying recently.
In it, he drives around the chasm in what appears to be maybe some possibly Chinese variant of a Nissan Terrano, and also reads stacks of books about horses and mythical creatures, records a song in a recording studio, bowls some strikes while guys in identical tracksuits watch, and rides a bike with really fat tires.
You know, presidential shit.
You can see it about 22 minutes in:
All of this was in response to rumors and speculation that Berdymukhamedov died of kidney failure which had been spread by opposition groups and observers of the region.
That flaming hole, by the way, is the Darvaza Gas Crater, and it’s been on fire since 1971, when Soviet geologists looking for oil deposits accidentally found a giant pocket of natural gas, which swallowed up their drilling equipment and collapsed into the massive crater we see today.
In an effort to keep the escaping methane from killing local fauna and in hopes of limiting methane explosion danger, the scientists set the crater on fire, figuring it’d burn out in a few weeks.
That’s not really how it worked out, and nearly 50 years later, it’s still burning.
While it’s not exactly clear when the footage was taken, it does seem clear that driving around a big hole full of fire is not something your average dead person can do, so, if we’re to believe all this footage is recent, then Turkmenistan appears to still be stuck with their president.