Kazakhstan-2015: Memory of the achievement kept forever

Kazakhstan-2015: Memory of the achievement kept forever

On October 24 in Orenburg, the memory watch 'We are millions of Panfilov Division' starts, dedicated to the 74th anniversary of the Battle of Moscow, and is organized by the autonomous non-profit organization 'Community of the Peoples of Eurasia.' The international event, dedicated to the feat of the Panfilov Division, will be held in many cities of Russia: Chelyabinsk, Yekaterinburg, Novosibirsk, Ufa and Moscow in the years 2015-2016, and will end with the 75th anniversary of the Victory in the battle for Moscow. The deputy director general of the political science center 'North-South', Yulia Yakusheva, and the head of the Center of Caucasian Studies at the Russian State Humanitarian University, Associate Professor of the History Faculty of MSU, Ismail Agakishiev, told Vestnik Kavkaza about the importance of such events.

"It seems to me that the idea of Memory Watch is much more fruitful and interesting for young people in Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, rather than another round table or conference, where scholars will make profound scientific reports, but the main question as to why and for whom we must keep the memory of the common victory is left unanswered," Yakusheva stated.

"Interest in the history of the war is still huge. Not only in Kazakhstan or other Central Asian countries. Equally, it is notable in the South Caucasus. In Azerbaijan, for example, the topic of the labor heroism of the Soviet home front is one of the most demanded in terms of scientific researches of the last decade. As for Kazakhstan, then certainly the legendary story of the Panfilov Division is one of the cornerstones of the patriotic education of youth. Like it or not, but while speaking with my Kazakh colleagues, during a recent trip to Astana, I was once again convinced of how deep and sensitive they are about any attempts to belittle the role of the Panfilov Division in the Battle of Moscow. Therefore, it is necessary to find some reasonable balance between the opinion of the historian and the projection of this opinion on the public consciousness. It is no coincidence that our publication – Vestnik Kavkaza – immediately responded to the initiative of our Orenburg colleagues to start a Memory Watch dedicated to the 75th anniversary of the victory in this battle. And I agree that such commemorative occasions should be celebrated in the general circle – Moscow, Orenburg, Astana, Bishkek, Baku, Tbilisi – this is our common victory, and thus common memory," Agakishiev believes.

"At the forum held in Astana young historians talked a lot about a space for common historical memory. Another thing is that the very idea of creating a common historical space is strongly influenced by the current political situation. For example, Yuri Mikhailovich Solozobov's proposal on the establishment of a Eurasian calendar of memorable dates was not met 'enthusiastically' by all the participants of the forum – as in, let's see first what kind of celebratory events from our common history are suitable for this format. This caution, in general, is understandable, but there are some memorable dates which certainly make up our common calendar of great events, including primarily the events associated with the Great War. It is possible to make a start from this fact," Yulia Yakusheva believes.

"I understand the caution of our Kazakh colleagues. Indeed, a lot of things, great and tragic, happened in our common history. The question is, on what should we put emphasis? On the common victories and tragic pages, revealing the essence and meaning of every event honestly and based on historical sources? Or on the basis of purely political reasons, to paint all of our past in black, like a painting of Malevich, and say that we had such a history? You should agree that the situation with some pages of our common past is just like a 'Black Square'. That is why initiatives such as the Memory Watch create the opportunity for a "reset" of the perspective on our common past. It is especially important that the forthcoming event will involve representatives of youth and diaspora structures. This, by the way, is one of the topics on which not only Kazakh and Kyrgyz diasporas should work. I believe that the Azerbaijani diaspora in Russia could participate in these kinds of memorable events," Ismail Agakishiev says.

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