According the Democracy Index compiled by the Economist Intelligence Unit, I have been living in some rather interesting places for the last year-and-a-half. Congo (non-DRC one), Gabon, and Turkmenistan are not exactly on par with Norway, but hey, only one country can be first.
There is a cement factory opening in the Balkan province (which is the region of the country that Balkanabat is in). That, along with other official business, is apparently bringing the President through town in the next week or two. One of my colleagues told me that the city is rounding up stray cats and dogs (and presumably killing them) because of a request that no animals run across the road in front of the Presidential motorcade. I can see how that can be viewed as a security measure, albeit rather far-fetched. However, it might also be for cosmetic reasons. That same colleague told me that he has to change some windows in his house since it faces the main road and that all houses and apartments that face the main road need to have the same type of window installed before the President arrives.
The President is up for re-election in February of next year. If my work schedule stays more or less the same, it looks like I will be in the country when the it occurs on Feb 12, 2012.