Alley of Statesmen

April 8th, 2014 Sections: Bishkek, Monuments, Soviet Union, Who's Who

I have mentioned, several times, that there used to be a website which stated that “Kyrgyzstan is not particularly well endowed with festivals” … which, in my opinion, is grossly unfair.  They may not always be the best organized affairs, but there are a wide variety of festivals giving visitors the chance to see (and often to participate) in traditional sports and activities, in music, films, sport and so on.  In fact, people here love and take every opportunity to celebrate something.

They are also quite keen on their monuments.  In a way it is another form of celebration … commemorating someone or something in the form of public, monumental art.  Some of these monuments are grand and gigantic, whilst others are modest and subdued.  Some are graphic and realistic whilst others are simple and abstract.

Unfortunately, some of them are some of them are so understated that after the initial unveiling, it is not always obvious to the passer by exactly what or who they are meant to commemorate.  It doesn’t always help even when there is an inscription … it’ll be in Cyrillic, (and / or, these days especially, Kyrgyz), but then even if you can read the names … that doesn’t tell you much … who is depicted and why were they considered worthy of commemoration.

Tucked away in Oak Park , for example, to one side of the Historical Museum and behind Dom Druzhba, there are a number of busts displayed in the Alley of Statesmen – a sort of open air gallery dedicated to effigies of a dozen characters.

The larger than life busts are in carved from granite and mounted on tall plinths – so they are actually higher than eye level and you have to look up to see them – clad in marble tiles.  The busts represent the work of several of Kyrgyzstans most notable sculptors, (Azhiev, Botagaziev, Mederov, Sadykov, Shestopal, Turumbekov and Usukeev), and date from 1995 to 1998; (so the alley was established after Independence … ), and the artists each tried to represent a fair likeness of the characters they depicted.

At least the name of the gallery tells us something about why the individuals were deemed worthy of inclusion … they were statesmen … but … basically, you have to know that already because there is no sign telling you that … and apart the names inscribed under each of the effigies, nothing to say who they are are what they are notable.  To be fair, I ought to point out that the full title of the Alley, Government Statesmen of Kyrgyzstan of the XX century, tells us a bit more …  These characters are all considered to have played an important role in the history and development of modern Kyrgyzstan … during the Soviet period, (remember that the Alley was erected after this period).

All the statesmen depicted are Kyrgyz … and several of them died during the repressions of the 1930’s.

I suppose for the locals who may be, (or may not be), immersed in local history, the names all mean something … but for visitors the name is meaningless … but there is some criticism that even the city’s modern youth do not recognize them or their historical significance.  Even for long term ex-pats like me, the name may not mean much more than a street name – a city center thoroughfare that has also been given the name to honour the individual … looking at the faces tells us nothing.

It’s not easy, even, to consider them as works of art … they are typical of their genre – busts … a head and shoulders, but little more.

Yusuf ( Djusup) Abdrakhmanovich Abdrahmanov, (1901-1938), was the leader of the nation, and is known as the founding father of the Kyrgyz state.  He worked at the Central Committee of  the Communist Party.  He was involved, in 1924, in the determination of the boundaries of what became present-day Kyrgyzstan.  Guided by the idea of self-determination for the people, in the early 1920’s he proposed to establish a special administrative area for them within the Turkestan Republic.  In 1926 he was appointed the Chairman of the Council of People’s Commissars  but in September, 1933, was removed from this post.  Eventually, in 1937 he was arrested in 1937, at the age of 37, was executed.

Arstanbek Duysheevich Duisheev (16th September, 1932 – 30th June, 2003,) – was President of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the Kirghiz Soviet Socialist Republic, Deputy Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR (between 1979 and 1981), Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the Kyrgyz SSR (from 1981 to 1986), a deputy of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR and the Kirghiz SSR.

Sultan Ibraimovich Ibramimov, (20th December, 1927 – 4th December, 1980), who served as President of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet and Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the Kyrgyz SSR – basically the Prime Minister of the Republic.  He was also a deputy of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR.  He was extremely popular and that may been what led to his death – he was killed by two shots to the head in his bed while staying at the Presidential Residence in Issyk Kul.

Bayaly Isakeev, (1897-1938). He joined the Bolshevik (Communist) Party in May 1920 and in 1927-8 worked as the managing editor of the newspaper Kyzyl Kyrgyzstan – Red Kyrgyzstan.  After that, he became the Secretary of the Regional Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in Kyrgyzstan and served for several years as Party Chairman, (from 1933 to 1937).  He fell foul of the “repression” conducted under Josef Stalin and was executed in 1938.

Torobaev Kulatov (1908-1984).  In 1938 he was appointed Chairman of the Council of People’s Commissars of the Kyrgyz Soviet Socialist Republic.  During the Second World War, (the Great Patriotic War, as it is known here), more than 30 large factories were evacuated to Kyrgyzstan from areas near the front line, and Kulatov was responsible for operation and with maintaining production capacity – thus he made a significant contribution to the economic development of the country. In 1945 he was elected Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR, where he served for 9 terms, (a total of 33 years).  He was awarded five Orders of Lenin, four Orders of the Red Banner and the Order of the October Revolution.

Bolot Mambetovich Mambetov (April 24 – according to the Julian Calendar, May 5 according to the Gregorian – 1907 – March 2, 1990).  Mambetov joined the Communist Party in 1929 and served as the chairman of the Council of Ministers of the Kirghiz Soviet Socialist Republic from 1961 to 1968).  He was also a Deputy of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR and was awarded three Orders of Lenin, the Order of the Red Star and the three Orders of the Red Banner.

Absamat Masalievich Masaliev (April 10, 1933 – July 31, 2004) – who, as First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Kyrgyzstan (1985-91.) led the country in the period up until the disolution of the Soviet Union.  He also served in a number of posts – including as a Deputy of the Jogorku Kenesh in the newly independent Kyrgyz Republic.

Abdykadyr Orozbekov, (1889-1938).  He played a significant riole in establishing Soviet power in the Ferghana region for which he awarded awarded the “Golden Badge” of the Turkestan Republic in 1924.  A year later he attended, as a delegate, the constituent congress of Soviets of Workers’, Peasants’ and Soldiers’ Deputies of the Kara-Kyrgyz Autonomous Okrug, where he was elected chairman of the Executive Committee.  For ten years between 1927 and 1937 he served as Chairman of the Central Election Commission of the Kyrgyz SSR.  He was arrested on trumped up charges and sentenced to death, but he died after a long illness in May 1938 before he could be executed.

Iszhak Razzakovich Razzakov (October 25, 1910 – March 19, 1979) .  He joined the Communist Party in 1940 and served on the Central Committee from 1952 until 1961 – serving as the first secretary.  He was also a three-times Deputy of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR.

Ahmatbek Suttubaevich Suyumbaev (17th December, 1920 – 1993), who was effectively Prime Minister of the Kyrgyz SSR between 1968 and 1978; a member of the Central Committee if the CPSU, as well as serving four terms as a Deputy of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR 6-9 convocations. Knight of the Order of Lenin two.

Abdy Suerkulovich Suerkulov (12th December – 25th according to the Gregorian Calendar – 1912 – 10th October, 1992) – Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the Kyrgyz Soviet Socialist Republic between 1950 and 1958.   He was also a three-times Deputy of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR.

Abdykerim Sydykov, (1889-1938).  He is often credited with spearheading the creation of the Kyrgyz SSR.  In 1918 he joined the Bolshevik Party and, although he was to be expelled from it on three different occassions, was to play an active and important role in its affairs. In 1922, for example, he was chairman of the organizing committee of the independent Kyrgyz Mountains region – which was a part of the then Turkestan Republic. From 1925 until 1932, he was based in Tashkent, working for the Central Election Commission of the Turkestan Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic.  In 1932 he was appointed Deputy Chairman of the State Planning Committee of the Kyrgyz SSR. Eventually, he ran foul of the authorities one time too many and on 18th February, 1938, at the age of 49, he was shot as counter-revolutionary.


For some reason, when we took the photographs, we only got 11 of the 12 busts – I’ll have to go back and get the last one!:



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