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af.reuters.com / Sat Aug 27, 2011 7:37am GMT.
ASHGABAT (Reuters) - Turkmenistan pardoned more than 3,700 prisoners, including around 30 foreigners, and released them from prison early Saturday in the latest amnesty ordered by the leader of the reclusive Central Asian state.
President Kurbanguly Berdymukhamedov, whose word is final in the mainly Muslim nation of 5.4 million, has continued the practice begun by his predecessor Saparmurat Niyazov of releasing large numbers of prisoners to mark significant dates.
The latest release comes shortly before the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.
"In Turkmenistan, we systematically pardon citizens of our own country and foreign states who have strayed, accepted their guilt and sincerely repented," Berdymukhamedov said in comments broadcast on state television.
Turkmen authorities have not disclosed the country's prison population. Though Berdymukhamedov has promised greater economic freedom, he holds virtually unlimited powers in a country that holds the world's fourth-largest natural gas reserves.