November 23, 2009
Tashkent’s decision to remove monuments glorifying Soviet military achievements and to tear down a Russian Orthodox church there dating from 1898 in the first instance reflects the Uzbek government’s desire to take greater control over its own national destiny.
But the combination of these actions – one Moscow newspaper suggested today that they were “removing the traces of the USSR and of Orthodoxy” from that Central Asian republic – create more than usual problems for Russia because it raises questions about the relationship of the Soviet and Russian past in the future.
And that relationship is increasingly sensitive not only in the ethnically charged atmosphere in the Russian population but also as President Dmitry Medvedev seeks to maintain the former Soviet space as a Russian sphere of influence even while pursuing closer relations with the Western powers.
Over the weekend, “Komsomolskaya Pravda” reported today, the Uzbek authorities demolished or moved away monuments that formed part of the Park of Military Glory that the Soviet authorities had set up in 1973 and tore down an Orthodox church as part of a plan to build a new government administration building (kp.ru/daily/24398/575153/).
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