New East Digital Archive

Turkmenistan bans ‘unlucky’ black cars

Turkmenistan bans 'unlucky' black cars
The Turkmen capital of Ashgabat. Photo by Dan Lundberg under a Creative Commons licence

3 January 2018

Drivers in Turkmenistan are having their vehicles seized by police after following an unannounced, country-wide ban on black cars.

Residents in the Turkmen capital of Ashgabat began seeing their vehicles impounded without warning on 1 January. Owners have only been able to retrieve their cars after promising to repaint them white or silver — colours favoured by the country’s autocratic president, Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow.

Turkmenistan banned the import of black, red and dark blue cars in 2015, with authorities extolling the president’s belief that “the color white brings good luck.” Other officials argued that dark reacted badly country’s desert climate, “creating an eyesore.”

This is the first time that older, darker models have been purged from the streets, although no official announcement has yet been made on the new rules.

The new ban isn’t the first restrictive ruling to hit Turkmen drivers. Ashgabat police began fining drivers who displayed traditional good luck amulets or toys in their cars in October 2017, while tinted windows were outlawed in 2014.