Turkmenistan bans alcohol during ‘Happiness Week’

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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