Jan 162013

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  • Wednesday, 16 January 2013 11:24 Who is to blame?  What to do?

Who is to blame? What to do? Many generations of Russian thinkers have been thinking over these questions – Chaadaev, Herzen, Chernyshevsky, Dostoevsky, Kropotkin and many others.


Lenin, the leader of the world proletariat, also pondered about it, and after all usurped the power in the Russian Empire. Stalin was aware of the dangerous revolutionary colors of these questions, hence, without hesitation, sent all curious people to Gulags…


They say if you want to predict what will happen tomorrow, learn what happened yesterday.


In 1982, I was shooting a documentary “Contemporaries” in Moscow, which was devoted to old Bolsheviks – heroes of the Civil War in Turkestan. I chose three people out of twenty candidates suggested by the Veterans union.


The first candidate was Nikolay Andreevich Veryovkin, retired lieutenant-general, born in 1893, who fought against rebels in Turkestan as commander of the 1st Ferghana Regiment, starting 1918, and as commander of the second Infantry Division of Turkestan, between 1919-1926.


The second candidate was Chanyshev Yakub Jangirovich, retired lieutenant-general, born in 1892. Starting March, 1920, Chanyshev was the commissar of the Tatar brigade, which fought in the Turkestan Front, and participated in seizing Bukhara and Fergana.


But, perhaps, the most interesting candidate was our compatriot from Fergana, retired colonel Abdukhalil Nazarovich Nazarov, born in 1902, who, despite the fact that was a son of a driver for Russian official, was able to study in the local Russian school, joined the Bolshevik party, and during the Civil War served as security officer. He was fluent in Russian, Uzbek, Tajik and Chinese. It is true that I don’t speak Chinese and did not hear him speaking in Chinese language, but we used to talk in Uzbek and Tajik, from time to time, and he was fluent in them.


I learned a lot from him about things that one could not find in books that time. For example, he told me that working in supervisory bodies he discovered that Ikram Domullo, father of Akmal Ikramov, was involved in land fraud, and in this regard, he wrote a letter to his boss, Manjara Dmitriy Ivanonich, head of the Control Commission of the All-Union Communist Party (b). This lead to a great scandal and he was advised to immediately move to Moscow. He was positive about Faizullo Khodjaev. Though, he did not forget to stress that Faizullah was a womanizer! He told me about how was secretly sent to Tehran, where he participated in the creation of the Communist Party of Iran and its press departments.


Unlike general Chanyshev, who lived in a luxury house on the square “Nogina” near Kremlin, and general Veryovkin-Rahalskiy, who lived near the metro station “Dinamo”, and who used to tell me how many trophies he had brought from Germany, and demonstrated his apartment lined with antique furniture filled with expensive tableware, with crystal chandeliers on the ceilings and large mirrors in the hallway and bedrooms, Abdukhalil-aka lived in the suburbs of Moscow, close to metro “Avtozavodskaya”, on the eighth floor of a 16-story building. The decor of his studio small apartments was very modest. All his property was composed of a large number of books in the old cabinets, shabby sofa with a coffee table and chairs, and Soviet television set standing in the corner on thin legs.


When I asked why he had not used the opportunity, as Veryovkin-Rahalskiy, to acquire war trophies, he replied that he served as commander of the regiment, and could have taken many stuff from Germany, but he never was interested in it. And even in Moscow he refused to take a trophy Mercedes car. Because of this decision he had a conflict with his wife. He was an interesting and critically thinking person. In his 80s, he lived alone, and had an independent life. He used to go grocery market by himself, cleaned the apartment, washed, cooked and did not need and ask for assistance. And the most important – he was not afraid to speak openly to camera.


Unlike those generals, who were ordinary people with ordinary human weaknesses, Nazarov was the living embodiment of a Bolshevik-Leninist, a real hero of the civil war as portrayed by Soviet propaganda. He bribed with his erudition, selflessness and austere unpretentiousness. I remember how often he used to say pointing out the window: “Is this a life I have fought for?” (This was the height of Brezhnev’s stagnation, shortly before General Secretary’s death, however, Nazarov’s many acute remarks were cut from the film – editorial of the film company and art director Malik Kayumov were vigilant safeguards of the Party’s interests.)


As I often asked about the repression and persecuted people, Nazarov once invited me to dine with him in the dining room of veterans of war, which was located, if I remember correctly, somewhere on the Bulvarnoye Koltso (Boulevard Ring). It was the government’s special dining room, where one could eat tasty and filling meal for a symbolic penny. However, one would need necessary documents for this. Eminent people, mostly elderlies, used to gather here from all over Moscow. Some came accompanied by their grandchildren and great-grandchildren, so my presence in the dining room did not bother the staff.


The dining room’s size was about 20 by 30 meters. Large windows to the busy street lighted up the rows of long dining tables. There was a wide aisle in the middle of the room stretching between the tables. Veterans of war, labor and party were sitting at the tables to the left and right of the aisle.


– Take all you like, do not be shy, – said Abdukhalil Nazarovich, when we approached the food distribution stand with trays in our hands. I do not remember exactly, but I took a lot – the first and the second and third course. He did not eat a lot, and took oatmeal porridge with milk. Then he went to the left row of tables next to large windows. I followed him.


When I finished the mean and was slowly drinking the juice, he started speaking to me in low voice, almost whispering, and pointed at the table to the right of the aisle, to the other side of us where sunlight from the windows did not reach, and where a bunch old people were sitting.


– There are the enemies of the people, – he said.


– Why enemies? – I was surprised.


– You asked about the repressed. Here they are – they were repressed, and then rehabilitated, – said Nazarov.


After these words, I took a closer look in the direction of veterans, who grimly ate their lunch on the other side of the aisle. They hardly spoke to each other. They just ate burying their faces in the plates, and even did not look at each other.


– And here, in our side, where we are sitting with you, – continued Nazaro, – are dining those, who repressed them.


Old men sitting next to the window, on the sunny side of the room, unlike those, who dined in the shadow of the walls, were full of life, smiling, and talking loudly to each other.


– They do not talk to your side? – I asked.


– Never! – answered Nazarov.


On the right, away from the sunlight, dined angry old men, who had survived the camps and prisons, where they stayed for ten, fifteen, or even more years. They never were enemies. They just suffered from a Jesus Christ syndrome, and felt personally responsible for everything that happened in the country. These were intelligent people, who were made scapegoats by the government that put its sins and failures on them. They lost the best part of their precious lives for only daring to think and ask tough questions, and to denounce acts of the government, and pondered over vital question “Who is to blame and what to do?”


On the left, on the sunny side, dined those, who punished them, those, who were soldiers and blindly obeyed the orders of their superiors, those, who have adopted the Leninist idea of “intelligence is a shit of a nation.” Who know, maybe if Stalin listened to the voices of those, who questioned his actions, maybe there would have been Gulags, the war with Hitler would not happen, and the Soviet Union would not have collapsed, and it would have peacefully transformed into a sort of Eurasian Union, like the European Union.


We, brought up under the influence of Russian culture, were unable to avoid the questions: Who is to blame and what to do? In January 1992, after the increase in food prices, students in Tashkent started mass unrests requiring the raise students’ scholarship. Instead of civilized dialogue, on January 16 the government shot at demonstrating students, cracked down on the organizers and held mass repressions. Political opposition was unable to provide adequate resistance. Then, Dr. Fayzula Iskhakov, leader of the Party for Democratic Reforms, together with poetess Gulchehra Nurullayeva, secretary of the Union of Writers, were able to organize a meeting of representatives of various political parties in order to consolidate and enhance the activity of opposition intellectuals to make adequate and civilized response to the repressive policies of the government.


Timur Valiev, former member of the Central Council of the “Movement Birlik”, and who became advisers to president Islam Karimov refused to participate in the discussion referring that the meeting was not sanctioned. Poet Jamol Kamol, former member of the Central Council of the “Movement Birlik”, elected chairman of the Union of Writers, did not come to the meeting and did not authorize its organization. Nevertheless, at the initiative of Gulchekhra Nurullayeva, who accepted the responsibility for organization, the meeting was still held. But it did not give any results except empty talks. Today, among us there is no Faisulla Iskhakov, Olim Karimov, Timur Valiev, Toib Tulyaganov, Damin Narzykulov and many other thoughtful and courageous people, but the question “How to combine the national intelligentsia for collaborative action?” is still awaits its answer. Only from time to time, on the Internet, just like as a voice crying in the wilderness, one can hear voice of Abdujalil Boymatov…


And everyone is silent.


Further I will speak on the issues that my former teammates may not like. Even though I am also the same stubborn dinosaur with the same drawbacks, it is necessary to speak about them. Sometimes I feel sorry for them, sometimes I feel regret, sometimes I am outraged, sometimes I laugh heartily… Oh, if they could see themselves from aside, they would definitely know what pathetic fools they sometimes look like.


And who must unite with whom today, dear Abdujalil? Those, who call themselves leaders of the opposition, are intolerant and unattractive. They have neither high culture, nor morality, or noble deeds, or exceptional mind. They are the most real Bolsheviks! Intransigent party members! One is naive diplodocus, who became Mullah and always flirts with the Islamists. The other is crazy tyrannosaurus that bites everybody. The third is a small raptor claiming to founding father of the “People’s Movement Birlik”, steals a website. You see, he has spent his money for it, and he does not like what is published there. And I do not care that this is the only website, where one can see the whole range opinions, maybe not always correct and not always objective, but still, existing in the country and abroad. Whose fault is that we are not intelligent?


What common goals can unite a physicist with poet, an atheist with mullah, a westerner with Slavophil? Did they selflessly grow fruit trees in the rocky desert and take care of the garden, knowing that they would never sit down next to the babbling brook and taste the juicy fruit? No! They have been the worst competitors for over twenty years fighting each other for the skin of not yet killed bear. It happened twenty years ago and is happening now on our eyes. What are we to do? Who is to blame that the kolkhoz “Red ketmen” (ketmen – garden instrument) was renamed to “Shining Path”, but its essence has not changed? Whose fault is it that the vast majority of the population has medieval patriarchal consciousness? Whose fault that society is dominated by conservatives, whose predecessors hundred years ago threw stones on Jadids (innovators, educator people) calling them infidels and traitors?


Last year, my neighborhood died. She was an old Communist, once senior official of regional party committee. During her last years she begged for food in local market and small shops in our neighborhood. Small, thin, neatly dressed in her thirty years old clothes, but still looking vigorous for her age of 85, she, clenching her thin evil lips, asked the seller looking straight into his eyes said “I did not eat anything for two days!” It may be true. Today the lonely old person can hardly make ends meet living only for state pension. But she did not ask “Give!” No! She said she was hungry. And almost no one refused to her. They always gave a little money, or some food to eat. I used to give her money. And if, God forbid, someone refused. You would not believe it! With heart-rending voice she yelled: Jadid! Urugingni kurutaman! (Jadid! I will kill all your family!). It was her most terrible curse. Imagine what the attitude was to jadids, innovators and intelligent people.


And this is not an exceptional case. Not long ago I was driving in a shared taxi and started talking with fellow passengers about history, educational work of Jadids, and suddenly the driver inserted “What to talk about them? They are traitors and infidels! It is good that they were repressed!” I was just stunned. And later while driving, I found that the driver was a former employee of Spiritual Administration of Muslims… This is our reality… Who is to blame that chairman of kolkhoz cannot be changed for the past twenty years? And small rodents admitted to the collective farm are stealing the barn.



And exiled are eating each other. How, my friends, we are different from them? Maybe in some ways we are even worse. What to do if we do not have a selfless Mahatma Gandhi, and the Uzbek fishless pond is full of only arrogant crayfish. Who is to blame that our irreconcilable Bolshevik commissars did not fulfill their historic mission to create a unified secular opposition, just like the Bolshevik government that had missed the time to register opposition parties and creation of a civil society? In my view, this is not so important. I’m afraid that very soon we will have to think not about democracy, but the preservation of secular power, fights against regional separatism and protection sovereignty…


And those, who manage to survive, will be rehabilitated one day, and they, sitting together with those, who persecuted them, under the roof of the charity kitchen for veterans will silently eat nourishing soup government.


Abdulaziz Makhmudov


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