Who Is Behind the Hooligans?

A. Levin, On the Events In Fergana Province. June 10, 1989


Co-author A. Kaipbergenov

Original Source: Pravda, 10 June 1989, p. 8.

… The situation became complicated again today. Thugs moved toward Kokand from various districts of the province. The trucks carrying the bandits were not allowed Into the city. But, from all Indications, It is still too early to set our minds at rest. The thugs have worked out some unique tactics: They enter a community, attack the Internal affairs departments with a view to seizing weapons, assault the buildings of Party and Soviet agencies and commit arson and malicious violence.

On June 8 in a suburb of Kokand, a train carrying fuel and lubricants was stopped and fuel was spilled from one tank car. The criminals issued an ultimatum; Release 400 detained persons, and hand over policemen and Meskhetian Turks to them. Only thanks to the resolute actions of representatives of law and order was an impending catastrophe avoided.

According to Col. Gen. Yu. Shatalin, head of the USSR Ministry of Internal Affairs’ internal troops, the situation remains unpredictable. The thugs are “opening up” new areas, moving toward the borders of Fergana Province, and threatening to cross over into neighboring Andizhan and Namangan Provinces of the Uzbek Republic and Leninabad Province of Tadzhikistan.

More than 11,000 Meskhetian Turks are being protected at a military unit’s training center. Yesterday the first 439 ailing children and their parents were moved to USSR Ministry of Internal Affairs sanatoriums.

Local newspapers come out very late every day and are immediately bought up at newsstands of the Chief Administration for the Distribution of Publications. In an anxious atmosphere, rumors sometimes give rise to panic. Therefore, journalists’ desire to provide prompt coverage of the course of events is understandable.

Rumors and Facts.-From numerous Interviews, we can draw the conclusion that the overwhelming majority of the local population condemns the actions of the extremists. But there are also quite a few people for whom rumors remain the main source of information. All sorts of cock-and-bull stories and deliberate lies continue to be spread, The aim is to sow discord and disorganize the population.

No, it is not nationalism, to which the killings are being attributed, that has played the main role here. The situation in the province is such that, if it wasn’t the Meskhetian Turks, their place might be taken by representatives of other nationalities, including Uzbeks. According to the opinion that is forming here, these are the actions of a corrupt, well-organized mafia group. Its aim is, riding the waves of democracy, to minimize the role of Soviet and Party agencies and to intimidate the bulk of the population.

“These events suggest that we are not dealing with individual hooligan elements,” the newspaper Fergana Pravda writes. “They are being used by some sort of forces as a blind tool in a well-planned, large-scale political action that was worked out long ago and is being carried out skillfully, its main purpose being to destabilize the situation not only In the province but also in the republic and in the country.”

In a number of areas, former criminals and various dubious individuals were the leaders in the streets. Here is the account of the June 4 events given by Police Lt. Col. R. Mirzaev, head of the Tashlak District internal affairs department:

“On Sunday morning,” he said, “we were informed that a crowd of 1,000 people was approaching the district internal affairs department’s building. They had taken the first and second secretaries of the district Party committee and the chairman of the district Soviet executive committee hostage. At the last minute, 80 staff members of the patrol and post-duty service from Tashkent rushed to our assistance. We tried to block off the streets, but the crowd of hooligans pelted us with stones and firebombs. They demanded that we release some people we had never heard of. People who were drunk and smoking hashish mostly 20- to 25-year-olds–started to storm the district police department. Several staff members of law-enforcement, agencies were seriously wounded by gunfire. At some point, we managed to calm the infuriated crowd. While three of the hooligans were searching the offices to make sure that we weren’t holding anyone under guard, we managed to tear two of the hostages away from them. Then the extremists started to storm the building again, Stones, homemade explosives and firebombs flew at us. The extremists’ goal was to break through to the room where weapons and ammunition are kept. Policemen managed to rescue the first secretary of the district Party committee. Another minute, and he would have had gasoline poured over him. The battle with the maddened crowd went an for six hours.”

Source: Current Digest of the Soviet Press, Vol. XLI, No. 23 (1989), p. 17.


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