In the first celebration of Alpay Day, many Turkmen came to the capital Ashgabat on Sunday wearing their best suits or traditional clothes. The president treated them with beautiful musical performances, parades and competitions. The celebrations took place in a lavishly decorated plaza dominated by a large billboard depicting the president alongside two gigantic dogs.
The highlight of the day was an obstacle course, which the participating dogs had to complete one by one. The president’s son ruled dogs for their beauty and agility. The main prize, a medal for the dog and a car for the owner, went to Alabai in the border guard service.
Alabai is known for being extremely brave, confident, and strong. An adult specimen can weigh up to eighty kilograms. In Central Asia, dogs have been used to protect livestock from predators for centuries. Dogs could easily kill a wolf, and it is said that they played an important role in the army of the Mongol conqueror Genghis Khan.
Today, the breed is highly sought after to fight dogs, and it is a popular sport in the region. So the impressive animals are not cheap, the Alabai Dawn costs an average of 1,500 euros. President Putin, a dog lover, received such a puppy from the Turkmen president in 2017 on the occasion of his 65th birthday.
President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov recently declared last Sunday in April a national holiday in honor of Alabai. The eccentric president unveiled a huge golden statue on a crowded roundabout in the Turkmen capital last November. He previously wrote a book of nearly three hundred pages as an ode to the dog breed.
Turkmenistan has been celebrating Horse Day for some time. The Akhal-Teke horse, like Alabai, is considered a national heritage. This unique breed is known for its amazing speed and glossy coat. As part of the celebrations, the President rode a bosom of honor on the Akhal-Teke horse with a golden nail on Sunday. Racing between purebred Akhal Teke horses was a must as well.
President Berdymukhamedov has been in power in Turkmenistan, which has a population of six million, since 2006. The former Soviet republic makes up 90 percent of the Sahara, making it extremely isolated. According to human rights organizations, it is one of the least free societies in the world.