Unsurprisingly, the election was outrageously crooked. Most western commentators agree that the whole episode served little purpose other than to put some gloss of legitimacy on the rule of the acting president, Gubanguly Berdymukhammedov. Mr. B was soundly ratified with 90% of the vote, in a turnout that was apparently 99%. I'm sure the only reason why he didn't get a larger percent was because he's planning to stick the other candidates into his cabinet, and thus make himself look like he's establishing a "government of national unity." I like the understated headline in the International Herald Tribune: "Vote in Turkmenistan is labeled implausible."
Today Berdymukhammedov was sworn in. As is the tradition in most Eastern European countries, during his inauguration he was decorated with the presidential chain of office, and given the sceptre of power to hold. He kissed the flag passionately, symbolizing his duty to the nation as commander-in-chief.