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Uzbekistan: War of the monuments

Categories: Central Asia & Caucasus, Uzbekistan, History, International Relations, Politics

14th January is celebrated as the Day of Defender of the Motherland in Uzbekistan. On the eve of this day, a grand opening ceremony of the monument “Oath to the Homeland” took place in Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan.

The monument depicting an oath-taking soldier and a benedictory woman behind him is erected in the Park of Military Fame, where the Soviet-time “Defenders of the Homeland” monument was taken down in November 2009. The removed monument was opened in 1973 and the Park of Military Fame was opened in 1975, the 30th anniversary of the victory against fascism in World War II.

In his speech at the opening ceremony, President of Uzbekistan Islam Karimov described [1] the former monument as the one that reflected the ideology of the begone regime [RUS]. But not everybody in the Uzbek blogosphere agrees with the official position.

nashingyou published [2] pictures (below) of the two monuments –a former one and a new one – in the New Tashkent [3] community, and commented [RUS]:

There was the monument to the Defenders of Homeland:

And it’s hard to say what it is now:

tupizza2 [4] notes in comments [ru]:

The idea makes me recollect the monements of J.Stalin's era…

old-benj [5] responds [6] with sarcasm [RUS]:

They took down the monument, devoted to real defenders of the country, and erected this one to some guy, who did not even take the oath yet! In other words, the monument is devoted to a conscript!!!!

Some bloggers see more political aspects and anti-Soviet (or anti-Russian) implication of these actions. pavelsheremet writes [7] [RUS]:

It is interesting why Russian “patriots” and “truth-seeking” MPs keep silent? Recently they were in a rage because [Georgian president Mikheil] Saakashvilli for demolishing a Soviet-time monstrous monument made of concrete. They nearly declared a war to Estonia for carrying the monument to soldiers out from the central square to a memorial cemetery. But there is no reaction to the Uzbek story. Memory about the Russian presence has been obliterated in Tashkent, but Moscow is quiet.

On the popular Tashkent blog mytashkent [8] александр махнёв [Alexandr Makhnev] expressed [9] his disappointment with the way the authorities acted [RUS]:

I can't say that I am too sad about the demolished monument. But the question is why they kept talking about renovation or reconstruction?! Why not saying outright that a new memorial complex would be raised on that place. They could tell us that just to show respect to the city residents.

The authorities’ actions: step 1 – rename the monument; step 2 – start “reconstruction”; step 3 – erect a new monument with totally different ideological meaning. We spit further than Estonia.

Indeed, many bloggers did not expect to see another monument. The point is that after removal of the old monument, Uzbek Ambassador to Russia Ilkhom Nematov promised [10] that the whole memorial complex of the park will be reconstructed and returned to their place [RUS]. Алекс [Alex] comments [9] [RUS] on mytashkent:

The ambassador lied… although he promised that the monument will be placed back! Sad, very sad.