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Discovery Central Asia #29

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From the editorial board

Dear readers,

Almost two decades have passed since the collapse of the Soviet Union, an empire which once was so seemingly unbeatable and solid. The heritage of seventy years of Soviet power could definitely not be erased by the recent seventeen years after it, even if the newly independent states had a strong and consistent will to do so, and limited attempts to overcome that were so far futile. With a vast majority of working population being born and raised in some of the best years of the Soviet period, and still bearing a great deal of sympathy and sentiments to the past regime, having everything Soviet left completely in the past is impossible  as it is with the remains of Soviet technological, social and cultural infrastructure still underpinning almost every aspect of local life. You may think of something as having authentic national character  but, that being true, after so many years it might as well have become as Soviet, as anything else. Soviet-time culture and mindset was deep, wide and welcoming enough to accommodate and appreciate all the best from all nations of the huge Union. 

Speaking of the Soveit heritage, it is of course impossible to tell the whole story in a relatively small magazine. In this special thematic issue we shall only try to give you highlights on some areas, trying to keep a balance between things you might have heard about and those which would probably be very new to you. We'll talk about some pieces of the vast cultural and scientific heritage of the Soviet Union, like its space program and Baikonur space center, and simple things, like Russian vodka  just to make a smooth start by mentioning something familiar.

You will learn about the famous Uzbek pop-group “YALLA”  a legend of the soviet popular music scene. It would probably be interesting for you to find out that Alexander Dubček, the former president of Czechoslovakia in 1968-69 and initiator of progressive democratic reforms known as “Prague spring”, spent his childhood in the capital of Kyrgyzstan. If you know who Vasily Kandinsky was, you would appreciate the story of a pearl amid a scorching desert  the museum of russian/soviet avant-garde art in Nukus, named after Igor Savitsky, its founder. We felt appropriate to add a story of Mao Zedong, the ruler of the second strongest communist power in the world, to this issue as well: it would be unfair not to mention this alter ego of the soviet communist regime.

Sooner or later, we are bound to return to the topic of the Soviet heritage in the Central Asia in the future, and any of your questions and comments would help us to uncover even more of the plentiful secrets and numerous unread pages of this not so recent turbulent past.

With the best wishes,
Marat Ahmedjanov

Discovery Central Asia #24

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