The rumor mill is already turning...there are reports that Saparmuratov Niyazov [Turkmenbashi] may have been, you've guessed it..poisoned... several days before his death was announced.
Furthermore, Niyazov's personal treasurer, Aleksandr Zhadan, apparently disappeared on the day before his death. 'Very important documents' have also gone missing. Zhadan was one of Niyazov's closest and most influential personal friends, responsible for attending Niyazov's every need.
Niyazov had between $2 and $3 Bn salted away in Deutsche Bank accounts under his own personal control. DB couldn't possibly reveal how much there really is, it wouldn't be ethical would it?
Good background from Stratfor here
A few quotes:
"While his violent tendencies could hardly be compared to those of Josef Stalin, Niyazov instituted purge after purge to remove any semblance of opposition -- indeed, independent thought -- from his domain. His sense of irony often showed in his actions, such as when a railroad minister was "accidentally" run over by a train. [What a joker..]
But the economic implications of Niyazov's demise are merely the tip of the geopolitical iceberg. What will soon begin is a free-for-all over the future of the territory.
Russia must have Turkmen natural gas to keep its policy of using energy as a foreign policy hammer going; replacing Turkmen supplies would take a decade and tens of billions of dollars in cash that Gazprom simply does not have. This policy is the foundation of Russia's grand strategy, and there is little Moscow would not do to ensure that it gets its way.
For Iran, Turkmenbashi's death presents an opportunity. Turkmenistan is the borderland between the Persians on one hand and the Central Asian tribes and the Russians on the other. Historically, invasions of Persia have come from two directions: west and north. Iranian policy vis-à-vis Iraq to the west is something Stratfor has discussed at length, and in order to secure that border, Tehran has masterminded events to turn Iraq into a quagmire for the United States. To secure its north, Tehran is very likely to contemplate measures of a similar scope. Indeed, the majority of Turkmenistan's 5 million people live within a few miles of the Iranian border. [Check out a map] An invasion would be logistically simple, strategically sound and impossible for any power to counter.
Notably absent from this game is the West."
No wonder Yushchenko looked 'off color' at his brief press conference with Putin today [conducted in Russian].