“-Niyazov banned the use of lip syncing at public concerts in 2005 as well as sound recordings at “musical performances on state holidays, in broadcasts by Turkmen television channels, at all cultural events organized by the state… in places of mass assembly and at weddings and celebrations organized by the public,” citing a negative effect on the development of musical arts incurred by the use of recorded music.
-Niyazov banished dogs from the capital Ashgabat because of their “unappealing odour.” 
-Niyazov requested that a “palace of ice”, or indoor ice skating rink, be built near the capital, so that those living in the desert country could learn to skate. The rink was built in 2008 and is located near the new Turkmen State Medical University.
-He outlawed opera, ballet, and circuses in 2001 for being “decidedly unturkmen-like”.
-He banned news reporters and anchors from wearing make-up on television, because he said he found it difficult to distinguish male anchors from female anchors.
-Gold teeth were discouraged in Turkmenistan after Niyazov suggested that the populace chew on bones to strengthen their teeth and lessen the rate at which they fall out. He said:
I watched young dogs when I was young. They were given bones to gnaw to strengthen their teeth. Those of you whose teeth have fallen out did not chew on bones. This is my advice…”
I used to teach loads of Kazakhs english (there are a surprisingly large number of Kazakh tourists and students in the UK), and they basically all used to say “our president is a dictator, it’s true, but he’s sane and competent, so we’re not in a hurry to get rid of him, because look at who was in charge of our neighbour”
Quite Kazakhstan borders Uzbekistan too right? I’d not read about Niyazov before but had read about the Uzbek dictator who died recently and was notorious for allegedly boiling his opponents alive. Terrible bunch o’ lads.
Actually it was the Uzbek guy who inspired me to fall down this Wiki hole, because according to Russian media sources today, the new president has had his daughter (a rich socialite who got done for massive telecoms fraud) poisoned to death.