From Rachel Saltz in Wednesday’s NY Times :

The president of Turkmenistan Saparmurat Niyazov ordered a ban on lip-synching in his country yesterday, citing its “negative effect on the development of singing and musical art,” The Associated Press reported. Under the order, lip-synching is to be banned on television, at all cultural events and even at private parties. Mr. Niyazov, who has led Turkmenistan, a former Soviet republic, since 1985, also banned opera and ballet in 2000 because, he said, they did not correspond with the national mentality. Last year, he urged a crackdown on men wearing beards or long hair and called for young people to refrain from putting gold caps on their teeth.

In a completely unrelated story, Kelly Clarkson’s autumn tour of Turkmenistan has been cancelled.