Russia, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan: Lenin's Birthday

Global Voices Online
Wednesday, April 23, 2008

On April 22, Vladimir Lenin would have turned 138 - and quite a few Russophone bloggers still remember the date.

Oleg Panfilov - LJ user oleg_panfilov, director of the Center for Journalism in Extreme Situations - chose to write (RUS) about his native city - Khujand, Tajikistan - which was known as Leninabad from 1939 till 1992:

You know, [Soviet/Russian scholar Dmitry Sergeyevich Likhachev] once supported the idea - put forward by myself and my colleagues - to return the ancient name to my native city. And it successfully made it back into history as Khujand, not as Leninabad, which it had been for over 50 years, even though Comrade Lenin had never visited it.

To me, April 22 is now the day when I can smile sarcastically - perhaps he lived and used to be alive [allusion to these lines by poet Vladimir Mayakovsky], but he'll no longer be in my city. Thank God!

Mark Grigorian - LJ user markgrigorian, a London-based Armenian journalist and political analyst - posted his reflections (RUS) on Lenin and his legacy from Shymkent, Kazakhstan:

For some reason, I continue to notice his statues, busts, portraits.

That typical pointed goatee, a huge bold spot, "an eagle's look" - or, depending on the customer's demand, the "kind eyes" - which painters and sculptors from different countries tend to portray in their own ways.

Or, to be more precise, used to portray. But in such quantities that even now, nearly a whole generation since the Soviet Union disappeared from the map, you can run into him anywhere. Or, nearly everywhere.

And here, in southern Kazakhstan, not far from the city of Shymkent, formerly known as Chimkent, there is a monument to the former leader, with one leg and one arm missing, at the warehouse behind the Mankent boarding house. [...]

[photo omitted]

This monument used to stand [in front of] the boarding house. But times have changed, and it has been replaced with a stylized yurt that holds three busts of the leaders of three Kazakh [...] tribes, who are looking at a stone cradle with this inscription in blue on it (translation may be imprecise): "If you want to be the nation, start from the cradle."

[photo omitted]

Many people here speak of Lenin and his monument with affection.

"My son is a third-year student now," a warehouse worker told me. - "When he was in the second grade, I placed him onto Lenin's lap and took a picture of him. Now this photo is in my album at home. Could I have known that this monument would ever be spoiled like this? What had he done to them? Could be left standing..."

[photo omitted]

Of course, this was a cult similar to religious worship. Many people have noted this: among the elements of worship were the holy trinity [Lenin, Marx, Engels], and devoted disciples who were spreading "the light of the true teaching," and holy books, and cult-like celebrations... And, of course, what I see now are the remains of the cult.


[photo omitted]


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