Shadow of the Holy Book

Arto Halonon

In one of the worst dictatorships in the world, Turkmenistan, the violation of human rights is an everyday occurance. What should have become a democracy in 1991, following the disintegration of the Soviet Union, grew into a country with a 60% unemployment rate and a government without any serious opposition. In 2001, dictator Saparmurat Niyazov published his Ruhnama, or Book of the Soul; a pack of partially invented myths, rules of conduct and tributes to himself. Immediately following its release, it became compulsory reading for all citizens. Turkmenistan possesses huge natural gas deposits and oil reserves, and forms an important passageway for raw materials from Asia to Europe. Companies that translate the Ruhnama into their native language can gain access to the country. A key figure in this process is the Turkish businessman Ahmet Chalik, who has slowly but surely worked his way up to the second highest position in the entire country. Many Western companies have revealed their willingness to comply with the dictatorship. In this investigative documentary, director Arto Halonen and an befriended American journalist expose the companies involved and who sidestep their moral responsibility. Simultaneous, conversations with exiles provide a disturbing political context. (IDFA)


Denmark, Finland, Germany, Switzerland 2007, 90 min.


Spoken language: Turkmen, English

Subtitles: English


Art Films Production

Dutch distribution:

Art Films Production

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