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Uzbekistan: Unwanted Changes

Categories: Central Asia & Caucasus, Uzbekistan, Development, Governance, Language, Politics

After the disintegration of the USSR [1], the Soviet communist identity and ideology ceased to exist and the new countries confronted the vital problems of defining new identities and ideologies. Most of the ex-Soviet countries were quick to give up the past and embrace the new life with new national values and ideas. Uzbekistan was one of the few countries where a process of defining a new identity and setting up new national values went in a very rapid manner.

The changing cultural and political atmosphere was first reflected throughout Uzbekistan through renaming of squares, streets and parks from Soviet-type names into symbols of either independence or national identity. All Soviet monuments were dismantled, being replaced with the heroes of Uzbek history. For the last two weeks, the Uzbek blogosphere discussed changes that were happenning in the post-Soviet period in Uzbekistan.

Provincialka at neweurasia [2] says that Uzbekistan underwent [3] serious changes that after the collapse of the Soviet Union, and writes that the new Uzbek government headed by Islam Karimov included new holidays to country’s calendar and entirely changed the ones that used to be celebrated in Soviet times.

I look at the calendar and I'm really surprised to see the governments trying to change the history and eradicate the memory of the past… The Labor Day, May 1, that used to be widely celebrated [in Soviet times], is totally forgotten in the country. However, those citizens, who lived during the Soviet time, still remember this day…

The Victory Day, May 9, would not be celebrated if not those WWII veterans, who are still alive today. However, it is not celebrated as a Victory Day. A long time has passed since it was renamed to the Remembrance Day, a day to remember those fellow countrymen, who died due to the war and J.Stalin's repressions. Respecting the memory of those repressed and those who died on the battlefield, I would suggest to have two different days for remembering their souls [ru].

Musafirbek at neweurasia [2] congratulates everyone with the Victory Day and says [4] that “it does not matter how this day is called i different countries, what matters is that this victory is a result of a unity, friendship and heroism of different nations” [ru].

The new government is not only changing the holidays and streets names, but also removing old monuments. Dismantling [5] of one of the most respected memories in Tashkent – the International Friendship monument – is one of such cases. It had been erected in memory of the Shamakhmudovs, who adopted 15 orphans in the WWII and became a symbol of generosity and humanism of the Uzbek people.

The article by Fergana.ru [6] generated a lot of comments [7], where readers shared with each other their thoughts concerning the dismantling of the monument. Emigrant says:

Tell me, who needs such independence? Infrastructure of Tashkent is worsening from year to year… The Uzbek government seems to be gone mad, as it is destroying the memory and history of Uzbek nation. Politicians come and go, but memory lives forever [ru].

Another change that came to the country after the collapse of the Soviet Union is the change of the Uzbek alphabet from Cyrillic to Latin. The change brought a lot of inconveniences [8] for Uzbek nation, as the old generation has difficulties in reading the Latin alphabet. While print media is remaining in Cyrillic, the sings, boards and ads in the streets are in Latin. The recent developments in the country show that now people are converting Russian into Latin alphabet! A blog RealUzbekistan [9] is so far the first to raise [10]this problem in media.

Also posted on neweurasia [11].