TURKMENISTAN'S all powerful leader returned to state television on Wednesday, dispelling an on-line rumour that he had died.

Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov, 62, was shown on television instructing the mayor of country's capital Ashgabat  on forthcoming municipal projects in his usual domineering style, indicating drawings of bus shelters with a pointer.

Berdymukhamedov is a mainstay of state television in a gas-rich Central Asian state which has no free media and few sources of information that are not controlled by the government that he dominates.

This was his first appearance on TV since July 15 when he had been shown in writing a book, playing with cats and reviewing a footage of himself and his grandson performing a song together.

Prior to that, his most recent appearance on state television had been on July 5 when he oversaw a session of government.

The rumour that Berdymukhamedov had died appeared to to begin with a small foreign-based media outlet run by Turkmen regime opponents.

It subsequently spread across Russian-Language website after a little known Russian analyst, who cited businessmen in Turkmenistan ''who have  acquaintances in the security services'' as confirming the information during a Sunday interview with Moscow radio.

Turkmenistan's embassy in Moscow denied the report the same day, calling it ''not information by pseudo information. Absolutely not true.'' [Agencies]


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