Russia: Namesakes

Global Voices Online
Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Stepping away from the drama and farce of Ukrainian politics, here is a story about namesakes (RUS), posted by Chechen journalist Timur Aliev (LJ user timur_aliev, editor-in-chief of The Chechen Society newspaper, and the Chechnya editor of the Institute for War and Peace Reporting):

Myself and Other Timurs Alievs

Five or six years ago, I search my name in [Yandex] for the first time and was surprised to learn that I, or, to be more precise, Timur Aliev "escaped from prison where he had been serving a life sentence for a terrorist act and pension funds embezzlement"!!!

Turned out that this "fame" belonged to my complete namesake from [Dagestan]. A couple years later, I met this person's former classmate, and he shared the details of this Timur Aliev's eventful life. I don't remember what happened to him next, but I do remember how I feared going through checkpoints for a while - after all, they could've mistaken us. Though our place and year of birth were different.

In addition to this, there are plenty of Timurs Alievs in the world. Two of them have already "suffered" because of me. And I've managed to meet them both in person.

One lives in [Makhachkala], and he turned out to be a journalist, too, working for the local paper Chernovik ("The Rough Draft") and for the Caucasusian Knot site. After one of my comments to BBC on the situation in Dagestan, he got a call from the local cops, who told him something like, "What do you think you're doing, bastard?" They ignored his attempts to convince them that it wasn't him who was doing it: they called and threatened him a few more times again. He ended up changing his last name to Isaev - which is also kind of funny, because my wife's last name happens to be Isaeva. In any case, his current byline is Timur Isaev and it looks like everything's okay. Last year we did a seminar in Makhachkala and my namesake was there. I came up to meet him, but I can't say he was particularly happy about it.

The other Timur Aliev works as a driver at the UNHCR office in [Vladikavkaz] and [Nazran]. I met him just a few weeks ago [...]. He came up to me himself. Turned out that he often gets phone calls from journalists from CNN, BBC and other media, asking him to comment on this or that situation in Chechnya and the Caucasus. He tells them right away: "I'm not the Timur Aliev you're looking for." I said that from now on he should be providing comments on behalf of Timur Aliev. After all, there are times when I cannot be reached - and this way I could effortlessly increase my quotability :)

Once, my friend and colleague was a Timur Aliev - he told me that himself. He wrote some pretty tough article for a federal paper and signed it with a pseudoname. But it was a pseudonym for him - while for me it was my own name.

And once, I caught a mention of yet another Timur Aliev - a mafioso from [Tashkent] (as they wrote in the article). But I didn't understand who he was exactly and what he was known for - because the article was written in the Uzbek language.

Periodically, various Timurs Alievs can be found in Google and Yandex. Some of them make good fish kebabs, others studied in [Dushanbe] and are now being looked for by classmates, and one is a member of the weightlifting team at the Far East. One Timur Aliev is known for "the really high flies on the quarterbacks" - whatever that is. And another one has a street in [Baku] named after him - the embassy of Poland in Azerbaijan is located there.

But the second most frequently quoted Timur Aliev (after me) is the one working as Skoda representative in Russia. He is constantly commenting on something to the press, and every once in a while, new photos of him appear on the web, along with the photos of new Skoda cars.

Anyway, there are many of us, Timurs Alievs. But I don't think that knowing this will allow me to make any practical use of it. And I'm not even sure what's better - to have a unique name or the one that's typical and is used a lot?

Strange enough, but this apolitical post has stirred a bit of a political discussion, albeit humorous - about the upcoming presidential election in Russia and Vladimir Putin's potential (and still unnamed) successor:

erpert: You've raised the most relevant today's issue! Imagine if either [Ivanov] or [Medvedev] becomes Russia's next president? What would happen if some crazy Ivanov starts giving orders as the Supreme Commander?


And if all Russian Sergeis Ivanovs and Dmitrys Medvedev's start giving interviews to the media - the world would go nuts!

timur_aliev: This can't be allowed... Lets not allows Ivanov and Medvedev to run for president... :)) [Zhirinovksy] would've fit well in this context, by the way... :))

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