29 january 2020

Central Asia news

Uzbekistan: Monument of Valor may be dismantled

17.04.2008 17:04 msk



Friendship of Peoples monument was already moved from central Tashkent to the outskirts, and the Monument of Valor may end up there too.

Unofficial sources claim that one of the documents President of Uzbekistan Islam Karimov signed on a visit to the United Arab Emirates last month stipulates establishment of an Islamic Center in Tashkent.

Dubai Holding investment company will finance construction. A colossal sum is to be set aside for the purpose - nearly half a billion USD. Without dwelling on expediency of a major religious center in the capital of a secular state (Uzbekistan is a secular state by the Constitution), it should only be noted here that the Islamic Center may end up built on the site where the Monument of Valor stands nowadays. At least this is what the document Karimov signed stands for.

The monument was erected to honor international friendship of the Soviet peoples who had rebuilt Tashkent after the calamitous earthquake on April 26, 1966. Earth tremors had left practically all of Tashkent in ruins. Eight deaths were recorded and 150 were hospitalized. Eight thousand families (over 300,000 residents of Tashkent with the population standing at 1.5 million) found themselves under the open sky.

The Monument of Valor. Photo from www.uzflowers.ru

Nothing was ever the same again for Tashkent and its residents. Thousands volunteers from all over the Soviet Union rushed to Tashkent's help. Money for its reconstruction was raised nationwide. Thirty thousand builders from all over the country worked in Tashkent. Construction materials and heavy machinery flowed to Tashkent in an endless stream. The nationwide effort paid off. Practically all tent camps became history by the winter 1967.

The year following the earthquake was a construction boom period. Chilanzar, Sergeli, Yunusabad, Karakamysh, new districts of Tashkent each the size of a major city, were built on the nearby fields. A great deal of builders chose to remain in Tashkent.

The decision to commemorate this tragedy was made a decade later. Moscow architect Dmitry Ryabichev assisted local sculptors and architects. The site for the complex was chosen right on ground zero - 2.5 hectares for the monument itself and as much for the Friendship of Peoples museum. The decision to dedicate the complex to international friendship and not to the tragedy as such was made in the process of construction.

People from all over the Uzbek Soviet Socialist Republic and all of the USSR as well as participants of the Tashkent International Film Festival attended the opening ceremony on May 20, 1976.

The monument immediately became one of the landmarks of Tashkent, a must for every foreign delegation and tourist visiting Soviet Uzbekistan. In sovereign Uzbekistan, it was a favorite site for newlyweds and city-dwellers in general. It was in front of this monument that human rights activists and opposition leaders met in May and June 2005 to commemorate the Andijani tragedy. The Friendship of Peoples museum in the meantime was renamed into Olympic Glory museum years ago.

Ryabichev has never had any luck in Tashkent, generally speaking. All his works (Karl Marx monument in Revolution Park, monument to 14 Tashkent Commissars near the railway station) were dismantled long ago. It is the turn of the Monument of Valor now.