Staunton, April 20 – Those who followed developments in the USSR in Soviet times often expressed the hope that the opening of archives would allow them to know far more about events that often obscure. But now that many archives have been opened, these investigators and their successors are paying less attention than is needed to new reports about the past.
The author of these lines is reminded of that general problem by the appearance this week of two articles that reproduce archival materials about ethnic conflicts in Uzbekistan in 1989 and 1990, events reported at the time but about which much has remained unknown. Both deserve the new attention such materials make possible.
Fergana news agency journalist Aleksey Volosevich offers two revelatory documents, a 3500-word official report on clashes in the Fergana valley in the summer of 1989 (asiaterra.info/etnicheskie-menshinstva/pogromy-turok-meskhetintsev-v-ferganskoj-oblasti-v-1989-godu-o-chem-govoryat-dokumenty) and a 1400-word official summary of the pogrom against Jews and Russians in Andijan in May 1990 (asiaterra.info/etnicheskie-menshinstva/spryatannyj-pogrom-v-andizhane-v-1990-godu-militsejskij-otchet).
According to Volosevich, the decision of the Uzbek authorities to prevent information about the clashes between Uzbeks, on the one hand, and Meskhetian Turks and Azerbaijanis, on the other, during the summer of 1989 has prompted some to claim that these events were all the work of the KGB and that the Uzbeks were innocent. The new document shows that isn’t true.
Instead, Uzbeks attacked the outsiders and more than 100 people on both sides were killed, the journalist says the newly available document shows. But it shows something else: things got out of control because the police did not act since their political bosses were more interested in hiding what was taking place than in bringing it under control.
The second document concerns the Jewish-Armenian pogrom which occurred in Andijan on May 2, 1990. Football fans, disappointed that a match did not take place, went on a rampage, burning shops and apartments belonging not only to Jews and Armenians but also ethnic Russians, seriously wounding and killing some of them.
More is known about this event because of a film an Armenian director made (movie.novosti-armenia.com/video/Ot3KyAzIYsM) and a report prepared for Kontinent in 2013 (https://kontinentusa.com/prizvanie-fotoreporter/). But the new document provides details and shows that the local police did nothing to stop those engaging in violence.
As a result, many suffered, and over the following five years, 1795 Jewish residents of Andijan left for Israel, Volosevich says (rujen.ru/index.php/АНДИЖАН). The new document is thus important not only for understanding the events of 1990 but also as background for the even more tragic Andijan massacre of May 2005. (On that, see windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2015/05/andizhan-massacre-decade-later-tragedy.html.)