Turkmenistan's top prosecutor resigns

Turkmenistan's top prosecutor has retired for health reasons, the ex-Soviet republic's state television reported Tuesday.

Kurbanbibi Atajanova, nicknamed "Iron Lady," has been instrumental in President Saparmurat Niyazov's crackdown on opponents after an alleged assassination attempt on him in 2002 and in his recent rigorous anti-corruption drive that involved prosecution of many senior officials.

Atajanova, 58, who served as prosecutor general since 1997, told a televised Cabinet Meeting that she wanted to retire because of health problems.

Niyazov accepted her resignation and named her first deputy, Mukhammedogly Ogshukov as the country's new chief prosecutor.

In 2003 Atajanova was reported sacked and placed under house arrest for dealing with illegal drugs, but weeks later returned into her office.

Niyazov has ruled this gas-rich Central Asian nation with an iron fist since 1985. He has resisted democratic reform since Turkmenistan's independence in 1991.

Critics claim Niyazov staged the 2002 attempt on himself, in which he was unhurt, as a pretext for the arrests and convictions of senior officials with whom he'd fallen out, reports the AP.


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