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Prominent Uzbek Writer Is Buried In Tashkent

Odil Yoqubov
Odil Yoqubov
TASHKENT -- Renowned Uzbek writer Odil Yakubov has been buried in the capital, Tashkent, RFE/RL's Uzbek Service reports.

Yakubov, 83, had been hospitalized in poor health two weeks ago.

He wrote dozens of novels in addition to serving as chairman of the Uzbek Writers Union, editor in chief of the newspaper "Uzbekistan Literature and Art," and heading the Uzbek state film studio.

He was vice president of the Assembly of Culture of Central Asia and even served in the Soviet Congress of Peoples Deputies while Mikhail Gorbachev was president.

RFE/RL reported that Yakubov was hospitalized due to poor health two weeks ago.

Shukrillo (one name), an Uzbek poet and Soviet-era political prisoner, told RFE/RL that Uzbeks and the literary world have lost a great writer with the death of Yakubov. He said writers like Yakubov come along only once every century.

Shukrillo added that Yakubov's writing reflected deep care for people's demands of officials and a refusal to praise the state.

As a result, he said, Yakubov lived a modest life and received little support from the government.

Yakubov, who frequently spoke to RFE/RL, was a close friend of famous Kyrgyz writer Chingiz Aitmatov, who died in June 2008.

Exiled Uzbek opposition leader Mohammad Salih, who had worked with Yakubov at the Writers Union, told RFE/RL that Yakubov was not only a great writer but an important politician.

He said Yakubov raised important issues -- such as cotton monoculture and Uzbek soldiers dying during the Soviet war in Afghanistan -- during sessions of the Congress of People's Deputies.

Salih added that during Yakubov's leadership of the Writers Union from 1987-92, it was "a cradle for opposition ideas" and such opposition movements as Birlik (Unity) and Erk (Liberty) were founded with the support of the union.

Hamrakul Askar, Yakubov's aide, told RFE/RL that Yakubov regrets that for the last 10 years his literary works have "stayed on his desk" unpublished.

Among Yakubov's most famous works are the short stories "Peers," "Two Loves," "Muqaddas," "Bird Wings," and novels "It's Not Easy To Become A Man," "Treasures of Ulugbek," "Conscience," "White-White Swans," and "Justice."