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Pro-Kremlin Activists Demand Uzbek Envoy Restore 'Soviet Soldier'

The "Oath to the Motherland" monument
The "Oath to the Motherland" monument
PRAGUE -- The pro-Kremlin Nashi youth movement is demanding that the Uzbek ambassador to Russia keep a pledge and reinstall a Soviet-era war monument that was removed from downtown Tashkent last year, RFE/RL's Uzbek Service reports.

Oleg Sokolov of the Nashi movement, who has held several solo rallies in front of the embassy, told RFE/RL that Nematov, as Uzbekistan's official representative in Russia, "should either restore the Soviet soldier monument or publicly admit he was telling lies."

Some 20 Nashi activists held a rally near the Uzbek Embassy building in Moscow on January 21 with the slogan: "Ambassador [Ilkhom] Nematov, tell us the date of the monument's return."

In November, all the monuments in Tashkent's 1973 Park of Military Glory -- including the Defender of the Motherland that is devoted to Soviet soldiers -- as well as Soviet planes, rockets, tanks, and other weapons, were removed.

Nematov was quoted by ITAR-TASS on November 25 as saying "all monuments will be restored and returned to their original place."

But on January 13, a new monument called "Oath to the Motherland" -- featuring a gold-plated statue of an Uzbek soldier kneeling to kiss the national flag and a praying soldier's mother in the background -- was unveiled at the place where the Soviet war memorial had stood.

An Uzbek Defense Ministry official told RFE/RL earlier that the new monument ends the "contradiction" that existed between the old Soviet monuments and a modern reading of Uzbek history and the nearby Uzbek Armed Forces Museum.