"A wise and observant man” (weekly review)
By Dzhambulat Are
GROZNY, Chechnya – A few days ago, the speaker of the Chechen parliament, Dukuvakha Abdurakhmanov, became chairman of the republic’s Writers’ Union. His appointment to the post of top Chechen writer was approved, as might be expected, without the slightest hitch.
Dukuvakha Bashtayevich Abdurakhmanov is the author of just two books. In one of them, which bears the unpretentious title of The Chechen Parliament, he describes how the body of which he is speaker was elected. His other multi-page opus is devoted to his impressions from a tour of Russian cities and villages as part of the so-called "Friendship Train". This propaganda exercise, conducted three years ago, was supposed to create more positive relations between Russians and Chechens.
Nonetheless, at the meeting of the Writers' Union board the speakers said that "both books are the serious work of a man who has much experience of the social and political life of the republic and Russia, a wise and observant man."
It is remarkable that the post of chair of the Chechen Writers' Union has for so long been excluded from the peculiar nexus of appointments that has been created by Ramzan Kadyrov’s circle. In 2005 the death of the union’s then chairman, Abuzar Aydamirov, a writer who enjoyed some authority in the republic, led to the appointment of Eduard Mamakayev, whose only merit was that he happened to be the son of Arbi Mamakayev, a Chechen author with the reputation of a modern classic. For the three years of his chairmanship the union continued to exist in a transitional form. It was only this year that the writers were allocated a new building in the centre of Grozny.
In fact, the Chechen Writers’ Union has existed for quite a number of decades. The organization was founded in 1937 as a branch of the Soviet Writers’ Union, though membership of it did not save Chechen authors from Stalin's repressions and the bullets of the Cheka. Nearly all of the union’s original members ended their days either in the basements of the Soviet secret police or in Siberian exile.
With the fall of the Soviet Union the union also fell apart. It was created anew on the initiative of President Akhmat-Khadzhi Kadyrov in January 2000. In March 2004 the new body’s first congress was held, at which Abuzar Aydamirov was elected chairman by a democratic vote, serving in the post until his death.
And now, by appointing the parliamentary speaker as their head the Chechen writers have add a fresh dimension to the picture of the rapid construction of a new society – or rather one of the old, totalitarian type. In a society of this kind the whole of the intelligentsia is recruited into the civil service, and the officials are charged with the task of furthering the interests of culture.
The painting is borrowed from the website of Nezavisimaya gazeta.
Previous weekly reviews can be read at http://www.watchdog.cz/weekly.
(Translation by DM)
(T) RELATED ARTICLES:
· How They Hunted the Chechen Books (Arlene Blum, 26.2.2005)