In the Soviet Union, everything was simple: whoever rules, there has always been one national hero — Vladimir Ilyich (Ulyanov) Lenin. At the same time, the living national heroes were initially I.V. Stalin, and a little later - L.I. Brezhnev. The intermediate Soviet leaders did not suffer from a particular personality cult, but the leader of the world proletariat was still honored.
After the collapse of the USSR and the formation of new independent states, the search for a national hero became a paramount task. Even more important than the economy, even (sorry for the reminder) is more expedient than democracy, even (not by night it will be said) more valuable than human rights.
In principle, national heroes are symbols that honor many nations. It is the people. But when statesmen come to work, national heroes turn into something very reminiscent of advertising billboards - outwardly beautiful, but they do not give anything to the people except brilliance, numerous conferences, replication of portraits on national currency banknotes, and the approval of orders and numerous monuments. And sometimes they are completely indifferent. As the saying goes: people's love is either there or not.
In the center of Dushanbe stands a magnificent monument to the founder of the first Tajik state in the 9th century, Ismoili Somoni. There is one more of the central avenues, named after him, the monetary unit in his honor, numerous monuments in other cities and towns, the former peak of Communism.
In the center of Tashkent there is also a monument in the place of the granite head of Karl Marx - the equestrian sculpture of Amir Temur. Tamerlane is five centuries younger than Somoni, but he was also glorified by Uzbek historians as the founder of the Uzbek state, which actually was not in the XIV century - it was called differently, as there was no Tajik state itself in the IX-X centuries. In the Central Asian Middle Ages, it was generally difficult to find mono-ethnic territories.
In the center of Bishkek, there is a monument to another national hero - Manas, the mythical hero of the epos of the same name, only in the 20s of the last century transferred to paper. He is not called the founder of the Kyrgyz state, but scientists came up with a more appropriate, in their opinion, definition of the founder of the Kyrgyz ethnogenetic base. Historically, his life belongs to the IX century.
And if the ideologists of the national statehood at the very beginning of the formation of the new Central Asian states did not particularly go into the details of the choice of heroes, then in Turkmenistan they took the easiest way. In the center of Ashgabat stands a monument to the most prominent of the Turkmen national heroes, now living president Saparmurat Niyazov. Truly invaluable is the merit of the Turkmen president, who glorified his idol: except for hundreds (and maybe thousands) of monuments, portraits on all banknotes, names of avenues and cities, gold profile on all TV channels, there are even such exotic places in the capital that First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Turkmen SSR could not exist - Medical Care and Counseling Center named after SA Niyazov, International Medical Center for Internal Diseases named after Saparmurat Turkmenbashi the Great, International Copper Insko center named after Niyazov, central medical hospital name Saparmurat Turkmenbashi the Great.
Remains Kazakhstan. According to President Nazarbayev himself, there is a portrait of Ablai Khan in his office, who in the 18th century headed the Middle Juz for twenty-five years and, according to historians, “did everything for the development of Kazakh statehood”, uniting all the zhuzes. In 1771, having calmed down the steppe civil strife with the idea of creating a strong and independent Kazakh state, Ablai Khan became the khan of all Kazakhstan.
But, strangely enough, in Kazakhstan neither Ablai Khan, nor other statesmen of the past have become national heroes. Perhaps because by the beginning of the XVIII century, the Kazakh Khanate could not be called a state in the full sense of the word. It was a territory that stretched from the Irtysh to the Urals, in the north to Tobol, in the south to Syrdarya and Talas, controlled by local khans, tribal elders and biys. And if the Tajik Ismoili Somoni and the Uzbek Amir Temur have the historical borders of the states they created, they affected only the modern territories of Central Asia, Iran and Afghanistan, then for the national hero of Kazakhstan it would not be at all useful to “claim” on the territory of the present Russian Federation. It is fraught, so to speak, from a geopolitical point of view.
On the other hand, the division of the Kazakhs into zhuzes, and lingering tribal relations, are unlikely to help the search for those who are suitable for all the national hero. According to Professor Masanov, even in Soviet times, parity was observed in appointments to senior positions: the first secretary of the CPC Central Committee was the Kazakh Elder Zhuz D. Kunaev, the chairman of the Council of Ministers was the Argyn Middle Zhuz and the chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Council was the Kazakh Younger Zhuz S. Niyazbekov.
Therefore, Ablai Khan, it seems, is not at all suitable for being the national hero of all Kazakhs. Even in spite of the fact that President Nazarbayev is from the same Middle Zhuz. And the national composition of Kazakhstan is so heterogeneous that now for the indigenous population there is a mile-like image of the alien Genghis Khan.
However, if you go into the biographies of all historical national heroes, you have to reckon with the fact that the mausoleum of the Tajik hero Ismoili Somoni is located in neighboring Uzbekistan. Historians who are not subject to state propaganda are still debating about the origin of Amir Temur, allegedly from the Mongolian Barlas tribe. Well, myths are not discussed at all, although only Manas was inclined to some extent towards internationalism, according to legend, marrying a Tajik.
But nothing can be done - huge money is still being spent on chanting the national idea and heroes. As my Tajik acquaintance said, with whom we observed a communist rally in September 1991 after the overthrow of a monument to Lenin in the center of Dushanbe: “Do you think they love Lenin? No, they love bills with a portrait of Lenin ... "