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Turkmenistan bans alcohol during 'Happiness Week'

FILE - Turkmenistan's President Gurbanguli Berdymukhamedov smiles as he rides a horse with a dove on his shoulder an a ceremony in the capital Ashgabat, Turkmenistan, in this Sunday, April 24, 2011 file photo. A series of public shows and sports events will be held during the first week of April to mark the 'era of power and happiness' recently announced by Berdymukhamedov, state newspaper Neutral Turkmenistan reported Friday March 30 2012. The week has now been dubbed the 'Week of Health and Happiness' and will among other things see the staging of plays called 'The Inspirational Era of Happiness' and 'The Era of Power is Illuminated by Happiness.' FILE - Turkmenistan's President Gurbanguli Berdymukhamedov smiles as he rides a horse with a dove on his shoulder an a ceremony in the capital Ashgabat, Turkmenistan, in this Sunday, April 24, 2011 file photo. A series of public shows and sports events will be held during the first week of April to mark the "era of power and happiness" recently announced by Berdymukhamedov, state newspaper Neutral Turkmenistan reported Friday March 30 2012. The week has now been dubbed the "Week of Health and Happiness" and will among other things see the staging of plays called "The Inspirational Era of Happiness" and "The Era of Power is Illuminated by Happiness." (AP Photo/Alexander Vershinin, File)
By Alexander Vershinin
Associated Press / April 6, 2012
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ASHGABAT, Turkmenistan—Authorities in Turkmenistan have put a dampener on so-called "Happiness Week" by quietly banning the sale of alcohol.

Shopkeepers said Friday they have been ordered to remove spirits and beer from their shelves in the Central Asian nation as official celebrations mark the "Week of Health and Happiness."

The holiday was created this year to mark the "era of power and happiness" recently announced by the nation's authoritarian and fitness-mad president, Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov.

The shopkeepers in Ashgabat, the capital, say the ban will remain in force until Wednesday, but some are still selling liquor under the table. They requested anonymity to avoid government reprisal.

State media, meanwhile, reported that Berdymukhamedov reached a Cabinet meeting Wednesday after a 5-kilometer (3-mile) run.

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