ASHGABAT, Turkmenistan (AP) — Turkmenistan's president has fired his natural gas-rich nation's leading energy official.
State newspaper Neutral Turkmenistan said Thursday that deputy prime minister for energy affairs Yashigeldy Kakayev was fired for exercising "weak control" over an industry that is the lifeblood of the former Soviet republic's economy.
The firing of Kakayev, a respected energy industry veteran, is a signal of deepening crisis in Turkmenistan, which has been badly hit by the plummeting value of natural gas — its only substantial export commodity. The country has also lost Russia and Iran as gas customers in recent years, leaving it with only China, from which it has borrowed billions of dollars.
Kakayev is to be replaced by the outgoing head of the Turkmengaz state gas company, Maksat Babayev.