February 25, 2004 — Niyazov bans beards in Turkmenistan

Just in case there was any remaining doubt that he was a raving loony, Saparmurat Niyazov, President For Life of the Central Asian Republic of Turkmenistan after it won its independence from the Soviet Union, decided to ban the wearing of beards or long hair by men. (It is unclear whether or not women were still permitted to grow beards, but probably not.) Among other things, he also banned gold teeth, lip-synching during concerts and the wearing of make up by television newscasters.

Despite Niyazov’s death two years later of a heart attack, human rights in Turkmenistan remain very poor, with the nation running second only to North Korea in freedom of the press.