Turkmenistan: Black cars 'banned' by customs officials

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Officials in white cars at a military parade in AshgabatImage source, AFP
Image caption,
Buying a new car can be a tricky business in Turkmenistan, where numerous restrictions are in place

White seems to be the new black in Turkmenistan, at least when it comes to buying cars.

Customs officials in the Central Asian country have reportedly refused to allow the importation of black vehicles, according to Chrono-tm.org, a Vienna-based opposition website. They haven't given a reason for the decision, but are advising importers to buy white vehicles instead because it's considered a lucky colour, the website says. President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov recently started using a convoy of white limousines to travel to public events, and about 160 top-ranking officials, including the heads of the country's main media outlets, promptly followed suit, Russia's RIA Novosti news agency reported in September. The paintwork restrictions are just the latest in a long list of rules, which includes a ban on the importation of coupes, supercars and vehicles with personalised number plates or tinted windows.

Turkmens have become accustomed to eccentric restrictions on daily life, which often seem to be imposed at the president's whim. In 2014, residents in the capital, Ashgabat, protested after authorities demanded they remove air-conditioning units from blocks of flats in order to improve the city's appearance. The government has also been spending billions of dollars remodelling the capital into a "white city" by covering all the major buildings with marble.

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