ASHGABAT - Turkmenistan has pardoned more than 1,000 prisoners, including 35 foreign citizens, in celebration of a national holiday in the reclusive former Soviet republic, state television reported on Friday.
President Kurbanguly Berdymukhamedov was shown telling a government meeting that all of those pardoned should be allowed home to their families for the holiday. He also ordered that jobs be found for all of those released.
"Criminals who have sincerely repented are regularly pardoned in our country," state television showed Berdymukhamedov, a qualified dentist embarking on his second term as president, telling the meeting.
The broadcast did not identify the nationality of the foreigners released.
Turkmenistan, a Central Asian state of 5.5 million people that holds more than 4 percent of the world's natural gas reserves, is regularly ranked by human rights groups as one of the most repressive countries in the world.