Uzbekistan went through several horrors before becoming the independent country we know today. To learn more about what happened, explore the museum, In Memory of Victims of Repression, in the cosmopolitan city of Tashkent.
A museum with a purpose
The museum was founded in 2002 with the purpose of exploring Uzbekistan's past and most importantly, to raise awareness about the repression Uzbekistan suffered by the tsarist and the Soviet eras. It is the only museum you will find in central Asia that immortalizes the memory of the people who sacrificed for the freedom of a nation during Stalin's repression.
The museum is located opposite the TV Tower in the Martyrs' Memorial Complex that honors the victims. The setting is a beautiful display consisting of two buildings, a park, and a rotunda. The rotunda, covered by an elegant turquoise dome with eight marble columns, holds a memorial stone with an inscription: "The memory of those who died for their country will live forever." The particular location was purposely selected in this area of the city, as during the initial phases of construction several graves of people killed by the government where found buried here.
The interiors of the museum are decorated in an oriental style, featuring national ornaments carved by local craftsmen from Tashkent. You will find expositions in chronological order covering the period from the first Russian invasion in 1873 to the cotton scandal in the 1980s. Although the names of the victims are mentioned, the curators have chosen not to include the names of the perpetrators. The story is mainly told with photographs, documents such as executive orders, confessions, and pleas, and personal belongings of the people that where killed. Some of the exhibits do reveal information obtained from the KGB archives – the former Soviet secret police. And the highlight of the exhibition is the part dedicated to the Stalin era to understand the great terror suffered.
Concern for the Russians
The museum generated some backlash with the Russians, regarding mild suggestions that this could be a way of blaming them for Uzbekistan difficulties. However, the head of the Memorial Fund, Naim Karimov, assures that the exhibitions don't intend to generate negative feelings towards the Russians. In fact, he maintains that the museum's purpose is to show that this was something done by the Soviet system.
If you don't feel like setting foot in the museum itself, make sure you visit the complex. It is one of the gems of the capital and a nice place to take a stroll down the river across the bridge and through the green area. From the complex, you will admire the TV Tower—the 11th tallest tower in the world measuring 375 meters high. The tower transmits radio and TV signals, and is used as a means of communication between governmental departments. Climb to the observation deck and take in the view of the capital from 97 meters above the ground.