Erik Kudusov’s answers to the questions of the editor of the newspaper “Golos Kryma”
It’s hard to believe, but Erik Kudusov is celebrating his 75th anniversary. On such jubilee day a person can be deeply touched and recall the past. Zealot, what are you thinking about?
Dear Eldar! I’m afraid that my answer to your first question – what I’m thinking about in my 75th anniversary - will be quite embarrassing for you. You know, you used to talk to me like to a cheerful and optimistic person who couldn’t be called an old man despite his 75th anniversary, because he is always full of energy and always looks to the future, as if he is going to live for an eternity. Alas! I am also a philosopher who has a sober view on life. That is why I’ll give the following answer to your question: “It’s a pity that I wasn’t born in due place and at due time”.
“Why?” - you’ll ask. I respond - “You know, I supposed to live absolutely another life, having such outstanding natural abilities, that I inherited from my parents who in their turn have outstanding genetic roots. But, I was born in damned Russia and moreover in the period of ragging idea of cannibalistic communism, and that is why I became one of its victims. I couldn’t realize myself according to the program that nature put in me.”
In order not to sound proofless and not to be blamed in arrogant conceit I will just remind you about some of my deeds that showed some of my natural abilities.
I should start with that in Spring 1941 when I was a baby I was taken from Crimea to Kazan. There I spent 12 years of my life. I went to school later then others, because our family lived the first years in Kazan in extreme poverty. However, 12 years later when I finished school and was already a self-reliant person, independent in choosing one’s own future I made a responsible step and decided, first, to continue my studies in some institute, and second, to do it not in Kazan, because I was bored with Kazan of those times – you see, I didn’t understand that Kazan wasn’t the reason of my discontent, but it was the system itself that dominated in the communist country. Long and short of it, I left Kazan … I came to Moscow. I filled the documents to Moscow State University (MGU). I passed all five exams and received excellent marks and was enrolled to the Geomorphology subdepartment of Geographic department, that is exactly where I applied. Like any other student from other town I was provided a separate single-room apartment in elite dormitory in tower building on Leninskie Gory. In short, I was enrolled to the best and the most prestigious higher educational establishment of the USSR.
It wasn’t that easy even in those times. Nevertheless, I made this deed and I even couldn’t fully realize its meaning, though I felt intuitively its outstanding significance. It was one of my first ventures I plunged into not once in my life, urged by extraordinary circumstances.
I should note that I was the only Crimean Tatar who dared to make such bold step. You know, Crimean Tatars were prohibited to obtain higher education until 1953. You see, I entered MGU in august 1953, few months after Stalin’s death and literally in the days of Beria’s execution. I suspect that the selection committee was embarrassed by my impudence and that is why they kept silence in stupor and enrolled me to the elite higher educational establishment.
By the way, when I made my reckless act my mother – Honored actress of TASSR, was dismissed from opera theater in Kazan for connection with nation’s enemies (in other words with Crimean Tatars), thought, officially she was Kazan Tatar (Mishar) that is why she wasn’t subjected to deportation, despite the fact that she was born in Sevastopol. I was Crimean Tatar and plunge into adventure knowing that I lose nothing, but could only obtain. My first serious venture had perfect success.
Studying in university and living on Leninskie Gory I turned to be one of the best and the most perspective students on my department, though, like at school I wasn’t a straight A student. It was explained by my attitude to life that I could form by the following phrase: “A person born to have joy of life”. You know, studying always brought me pleasure both at school and at the university. Of course, I didn’t like all subjects of educational program. That is why I wasn’t a straight A student. Nevertheless, when I became complete orphan (my mother died in 1956 when I was studying on the third year) I had to do my best in order to become straight A student in order to obtain the raised scholarship. Needs must.
After I graduated from MGU I went to an independent sailing through life (though, I became independent already after I finished school), I decided devoting myself to science, because when I was a student and went annually to expeditions I understood that science is my mission. Indeed, working on Caspian Sea coast as well as no Pacific shores of Kamchatka I made few fundamental scientific discoveries between this and then in the field of geomorphology of sea coasts, thus making the venerable coryphaeus of our science warring, because I shook the foundations of their imperfect theories (one could read about this in my autobiographic book in details).
The thing is that in order to make the science effective a person who studies the natural process has to have a range of abilities, including the one that is obligatory. This is to discover the major natural ties, without mixing them with secondary ones that are abundant in the nature. Nobody knows that this ability is all about, but it is supposed to have something in common with intuition. But the thing is not in that. If a person possesses it and this person deals with science one should expect from him a lot interesting scientific achievements. If a person doesn’t possess this ability he will be just an erudite person nothing more than that. Well, working as a geomorphologist when I examined the land forms and defined their origin I discovered that I have this ability. I could decode the puzzles of nature quite quickly.
There is nothing but to regret that I didn’t deal with fashionable science. There aren’t many people who bother themselves with geomorphology of sea coasts. Nevertheless, when I worked on Caspian Sea and in Kamchatka I could see things that tens of other titled scientists couldn’t see before me. Of coarse they were hurt that the unknown, and what is even worse, the untitled aspirant made so many discoveries that could be more that enough for two doctoral thesis, not to say about Candidate's dissertation.
This is all because due to my natural abilities I could watch and see that the other people couldn’t see. To look into the roots, as the famous Kozma Prutkov recommended insistently to the man in the street, can only a person who has the relevant abilities. If a person lacks them he looks into the book and sees nothing. This is all concernign the abilities of a person, the ones I started answering the questions. But, let me continue my story that was interrupted in the previous paragraph.
The results came pat: the hunting started on me. My scientific articles were stopped publishing. And at the same time the leading figure in geomorphology of sea coasts, professor Zenkovich found me and proposed me working at his institute and his patronage at defending my dissertation, lauding it to the skies. In short, a real hunting started on me in order to get rid of me. I found out all this from those who knew the secret plans of Mr. Zenkovich, who personally gave orders concerning my future defamation as a scientist.
Realizing that one cannot chop wood with a penknife I decided to make a knight's move. I shunted my thesis work and busied myself with writing: I started writing scientific-artistic story describing the intrigues in the scientific work, taking my personal adventures in expeditions and offices of scientific institutes for the basis.
I should admit that writing wasn’t new for me. Shortly before this I wrote and published the story titled “Staying for the winter”, that had a great success of the Soviet readers (I saw how people uninterruptedly read it not only in subway, but even staying on escalators), and was republished several times in various publishing houses. You know, Zenkovich was among the first its readers and admirers. That is why when the gossip that I was going to tell the world about Zenkovich’s intrigues reached him, the last argument was used – I was taken into jail (in Soviet time there was a telling: “find a person and we could easily find an article to throw him to the prison” – you know the criminal code was so bulky). There was no need in finding a reason to prison me: I was an open dissident, I turned my apartments into a secret address for all initiative members of national Crimean Tatar movement who arrived at Moscow from Asia.
Overall, the time came when the interests of small envious persons and state lackeys matched. Zenkovich was very influential person in scientific and ruling circles. Nevertheless, I managed to publish my article in an edition where he just couldn’t reach his hands and from where he didn’t suspect receiving a deathblow. KGB also missed the new popular writer who suddenly turned out to be a dissident. It was already late to work with me. It was easier to prison me, even just for a short term. Thus, Andropov’s clique took me to the jail, inventing an absurd charge. Now people laugh themselves sick reading it. However, I was in no mood for laughter. Four years they tried to break me, my will.
However, at my health price and in the result of exhausting hunger striker I achieved the opposite thing – the head and the deputy commander in charge of policy were dismissed from their post. Eventually, I had to be moved from this camp to another one, because here I obtained an unexpected authority even of the thieves who started treating me in a pointedly respectful manner and even provided me with a secret guardianship. KGB officials didn’t forgive the camp’s officials such development of events and fired them. I was transferred from Siberia to Kirov where I restored my health, feeling intent and vigilant surveillance of new chiefs.
Serving altogether four years (from 1983 till 1987) I already didn’t find Zenkovich alive. Frankly speaking, I didn’t care much about him, because Crimean Tatars occupied Moscow, and I was absorbed in the national movement, renewing my dissident activity that was interrupted by my imprisonment. I had to put aside the geomorphology science.
However, I couldn’t leave my science colleagues unpunished as they did their best not to let the world to see my works. There was no sense in trying to defend my thesis again – my absence in science was too long. However, it was quite real to restore the started novel and to continue it. I did so.
In fact the result was what I longed for: I stated the content of my thesis in an intelligible artistic form, turning all my adventures over the virgin parts of nature in a captivating narration, and gave it the title “Over the Edge of Disappearing Land”. I published it along with my first story. The result was a fundamental book under the common title “Geographic Adventures”. This was my first autobiographic work. Sui generis my business card with that I at the same time stroke a blow on the dull and impudent face of my science colleagues. This book that became available even to people who were far from science not only let me tell them all the details of scientific work, but return the priority in those scientific achievements that Zenkovich and his henchmen tried to hide from scientific world.
Every cloud has a silver lining, as the saying goes. I probably never would call myself a writer if Zenkovich and other envious persons wouldn’t make me address myself to literature for help. Nobody expected such demarche from me. You see, the difference between the scientific creativity and the fiction literature is that in the first case a person uses his left cerebral hemisphere and in the second case – the right one. So, it is extremely rare occurrence in scientific practice when a scientist who could make scientific discoveries, that is who has developed left hemisphere, suddenly uses equally his right hemisphere. As a rule people are asymmetric. This is a norm. But I turned out to be symmetric. I managed to reconcile contraries. Those who do not believe it can check it. Take my book and read it. It will be the best prove to my words.
As far as the scientific regalia concerns I don’t care about their absence. I receive satisfaction from my educational work, from time to time publishing scientific – popular books and articles in newspapers and journals. I mainly publish my works in Crimea.
One thing makes me upset, though: Crimean Tatars I am writing to are in majority not a reading public. Such national trait we Crimean Tatars have. I must admit that this trait adorns no nation.
You life is inseparably connected to the national movement. It is interesting to hear your opinion concerning the present situation in Crimean Tatar national movement?
As far as the problems of Crimean Tatar national movement concerns, I can tell a lot about it, moreover I’ve written much about it. But, I can remind you in short.
So called people’s national movement appeared in post-war period as a protest reaction on the unjust repressions of the authorities against certain peoples. Crimean Tatar turned out to be the first who didn’t want to comply with slave position and violation of human dignity. All in all there were 13 repressed peoples in the USSR. They were doomed to degradation and slow extinction in reservations. Such was the ethnic policy of the communist state. And the main bearer of this policy was Russian people. They liked this policy and they still feel nostalgia about Stalinism. However, the Soviet Union couldn’t live under the iron curtain forever. And when after Stalin’s death the curtain fell there started the rapid upsurge of self-consciousness of the suppressed peoples. This very process was started referring to as national movement. The goal of this national movement was elimination of all consequences of Stalin’s repressions.
The majority of the repressed peoples could return the temporary lost positions: they returned to their own houses on their native land, restored their national – political boundaries and even obtained partial financial reimbursement. However, neither Germans, nor Meskhetian Turks and Crimean Tatars weren’t among them. Thus, our rights are still not restored. In other words we didn’t obtain neither our houses back, nor republic, nor even financial compensation. Consequently, it is still early for us to stop fighting. We still have to preserve our orderliness in order to carry out to its logical end the process of elimination of the consequences of Stalin-communist repressions. With this very purpose we established Mejlis of Crimean Tatar People.
How effective is Mejlis in its main task - this is another question.
Newspaper “Golos Kryma” repeatedly touched the issue of overcoming the split in the movement. We’d like to address this question to you as well?
Touching the problem of split in the movement we should understand that the thing usually comes only about the methods of achieving the goal. It’s not likely that someone is going to deny or dispute the goal itself. As an indigenous people of Crimea we seek after the most elementary provisions, stated in the International legal acts. When we lived in the Soviet Union we had one type of dialogue with authorities. Now we are living in Ukraine that defers from the USSR. Naturally, the methods and the language of communication with authorities should be different. The main thing is that these methods must be effective and not lead to opposite result. This could be achieved by the ability to carry right and wise policy. However, every person understands the way he should act to achieve the goal his own way.
All this is a theory, though. In reality we are standing pat long ago. It means that there is something and somewhere wrong. And people are getting irritated with this. For me, living in Moscow it is difficult to give advices to the residents of Crimea. Nevertheless, I would give one advice. It concerns the method of governance that recently adopted Mejlis. This method is called authoritarian.
It will take much time to explain what authoritarian governance is. I can just remind you that this is a primitive archaic way of ruling by the heard of brainless animals, roughly speaking. If you want the intelligent definition, please read the article hosted on my Internet site and you won’t have to toss lots of treatise, written by the researches starting from great Machiavelli.
Well, when Mejlis was created in the first years of its existence there was democracy. The members of Mejlis debated, proposed various opinions concerning the methods of solving of this or that problem. In general, the contest of opinions gave birth to the strategy and tactics of Mejlis’ activity. It isn’t so anymore. Why? Because all dissidents were first terrorized then they were simply ousted from there. Now there is quiet and grace. But at this the things stand still. This is because of the identity of views that set in there.
Managing people in a democratic way is an art. Authoritarian way is much easier, because it doesn’t require much wit - having force or unlimited power is enough.
Genetically Crimean Tatars perceive no authoritarianism. The conflicts on this ground started back in 1783, when Russia conquered Crimea and started implanting authoritarianism, the submissive Russian slaves used to. It is an old custom that Crimean Tatars determine their own fate for themselves, without transferring it to the strangers, like Russian bond slaves who used to that barin always thought for them. Even now they can build civil society based on democratic principles without the help of authoritarian methods of uniting the crowd. That is why the authoritarianism that settled in Mejlis and makes attempts to spread on all Crimean Tatar society (especially to the national Mass Media), irritated them. The consequence of this was appearance of dissenting opposition. This is quite natural. Unnatural, though, is another thing, that is, the yearning of today’s Mejlis to implant the authoritarian orders among Crimean Tatars, that dominated in the USSR. There is a paradox: Ukrainian people who are more inclined towards autocracy, like Russia strive for imitating Europe, artificially implanting democratic methods of governance, when Crimean Tatars who profess according to their mentality the democratic principles persistently clinch for authoritarian methods in their strive for unity…
However, the split among Crimean Tatars could be eliminated soon. But here we face with personal ambitions and anticipations. The old personal hostility doesn’t let all the opponents to seat at one table. Even more. When I offered Chubarov my services as an intermediary in negotiations and achievement of consensus he flatly refused even this offer. You know, both conflicting parties easily communicate with me, they evidently regard me as a person with whom they could discuss even the sorest subjects. Here is my conclusion: we should replace the diehard and unbending leaders of confronting parties with more flexible and complaisant politicians. You see, we have one common goal. In other case we, figuratively speaking, will be back to square one, and our enemies would rub their hands joyfully.
This is my opinion.
As the head of Crimean Tatar community in Moscow could you tell us please what our compatriots in the capital of Russian state live and deal with?
Some ten years ago I published an article in newspaper “Golos Kryma” about three waves of immigration of Crimean Tatars to Moscow. Tatars of the first, pre-war wave are not already alive. Their descendants were assimilated and most every do not consider and call themselves Crimean Tatars. Crimean Tatars of the second wave already arrived at Moscow not from Crimea, but from Central Asia and already in post-war period. I am also the representative of the second wave, despite the fact that I didn’t arrive at Moscow from Central Asia. It is evident that we are far from being young men. Many of as are still alive, but the majority are already pensioners. Starting from 1989 half of Crimean Tatars from Moscow rushed to Crimea where they finally settled. So, after that our number in Moscow reduced to a little less than half thousand people.
However, already in the late 90’s the new wave of migrants arrived at Moscow from Crimea and Crimean Tatars represented a large percentage among them. This already was another contingent both on their age and spirit. If the second wave consisted of mostly intellectuals who didn’t hide their political opinions, then the representatives of the third wave on the contrary tried to stay away from politics, pursuing mostly financial interests. You know, the chaos dominated on the entire post-Soviet territory and prompt fellows rushed to take advantage of the opportunity, in other words to make business. There were more possibilities in Moscow then in the province.
This way the modern Crimean Tatar diaspora started gradually forming in Moscow.
As far as me personally concerns I didn’t change my way of life, that is I didn’t try to settle in Crimea and didn’t change my life in Moscow on the wave of commercialization. On the contrary, I dove into politics, taking advantage of the embarrassment of KGB. In 1990 I became one of the founders of the Confederation of Repressed Peoples and took the post of the executive Secretary – coordinator.
Very soon our Confederation started gaining political weight and this fact raised serious concern of the recovering authorities. They had not enough force to suppress openly the wakened repressed people. Then they went along the proved principle: they decided to tame Confederation’s governing body. With this goal they proposed us, that is, the Presidium of the Confederation to enter in full composition to the Government of the country. After discussion we decided to accept the offer, considering that we could stand the test with “spice cake” and wouldn’t betray our peoples’ interests.
I won’t tell you here all the cobweb of this hidden struggle in details. I can only tell that they couldn’t bribe us. That is why our department in the Ministry was simply closed. Later on the Ministry on Nationalities itself was liquidated. So the multiethnic Russia remained without the basic ministry. So Russia lives until now returning to authoritarian – totalitarian regime. God forbid the same thing for Ukraine!
Leaving my position as an official on my own will half year before my official retirement (it was my next demonstrative civil act) I decided continuing my activity on human right defense through Mass Media, publishing articles in Crimean Tatar Press. At the same time since 1994 I started annually visiting Europe as the representative of Mejlis in Federative Union of European National Minorities. In the beginning of 1998 along with the activists of the second wave we established and legally registered the expatriates’ community of Crimean Tatars that I’m still heading.
I intently stressed that we did it together with the activists of the second wave, because at the same year the guest workers of the third wave made themselves known as well. They also started clustering together that is quite natural for all migrants who appear in new, strange environment. However, the expatriates’ community of Crimean Tatars of the second wave fundamentally differed from the interests of the expatriates’ community of the contingent of the third wave. If in 1980’s Crimean Tatars came to Moscow inspired by human rights defense ideas in order to fight for their civil rights, the immigrants of the late 1990’s who came already from Crimea pursued absolutely another goals. I would even say the opposite ones.
Their task was to get easily penetrated into new environment in order to make much money and to do it quickly. All the rest, especially politics didn’t bother them. Penetrating into the new environment they just wanted to remain themselves, in other words, to have the possibility from time to time communicate with their compatriots in order to satisfy their hunger for music, dancing and speaking native language. They were not concerned with deeper problems. These are the main differences between these two last waves of migration. Consequently the forms of interrelation between these contingents of people differed because of the difference of their interests.
I gathered people on thematic meetings where people came in order to discuss, to exchange opinions, to find out something new from invited guests. That is why these meetings often attended the scientists, politicians, cultural workers, etc. The special part in the agenda was dedicated to literature. It is happened so that since 1999 Crimean Tatars from Moscow for several years gave our people few outstanding literary works. It would be at least unjust to deny the influence of activity of the governing body of the expatriates’ community on appearance of such works.
As far as the activity of another part of diaspora concerns where Mustafa Mukhteremov – one of Moscow guest workers showed himself as the leader, it is focused on holding mass events, attended by 200 – 300 Crimean Tatars, and where the agenda included performance of musicians and singers from Crimea, usually accompanied by parties with Khaytarma music. These gatherings, timed to national – religious holidays acquired popularity of all the diaspora of Crimean Tatars in Moscow and that is why they already became traditional.
In order to legalize them (in Russia they could be banned) I offered Mukhteremov the vacant post in the expatriates’ community as the Executive Director of the expatriates’ community. At this I understood perfectly well that with this offer I deprived Mustafa of his single leadership which he always longed for. However, this was forced measure, because on some reasons he couldn’t establish the new organization. Without the juridical status he would have a lot of problems in Russia that could quickly put an end to his ambitious impulses.
This way I’m governing the expatriates’ community. By the way, I’m a democrat on my nature and in such form of governance, when I offer a person “the roof” and at the same time do not interfere with his creativity process, I show my democracy. One thing is bad, though, people who used to authoritarian methods of governance often regard my democratic liberties for manifestation of my weakness. But I can be tough as well, if it is required.
ÏDoes the tendency of interaction between the center and diaspora increased after the holding of Crimean Tatar World Congress?
I will give the shortest answer to this reply: “I observe no positive changes towards the interrelation between center and diaspora”. If someone wants to know my opinion concerning the passed Crimean Tatar World Congress, please welcome to my Internet site. There you can find my article titled “About the Perspectives of Crimean Tatars World Congress” where I propose the thorough analysis of the event held in May. As far as I know, this article wasn’t published anywhere yet. I think it is right. First, it is too acute, second, it is premature. Let two – three years pass and then it could be made public with obligatory reference to the date when it was written.
By the way this very article shows my toughness.
You are all-round man – public figure, a writer, traveler and many more. What are you doing at the moment?
I live. I live an active, plethoric life. I have no time for quiet and slow senility. Like in my middle ages I’m still in permanent time trouble. I have lots of plans for the future that require immediate implementation. Of coarse I can tell you about some of them. I will start from what I’ve already done.
In 2005 I opened an Internet site www.moskva-krym.com where from time to time I host new materials. These materials are then published in newspapers and magazines. Only this tells that I’m not a scribbler, but a sensible journalist. My works are claimed by readers. Sometimes I even have no time to satisfy all the orders. For example, my next book that I started long ago almost stands still because of the more urgent current matters. You know, apart from creativity and public work I also actively keep on enriching my knowledge in various fields of science and culture.
I’m regularly invited to famous and prestigious seminars in Moscow where the outstanding representatives of science and culture not only from Russia but from abroad deliver their lectures. I’m not only listen but also address the audience of these seminars with speeches. By the way, this is one of the reason why I can’t move to Crimea on permanent residence. You see, only in Moscow I have the possibility to be on the foremost edge of modern science and art. Unfortunately, the province can’t give me this. In other words, in Moscow I have the possibility to go with the times. Here I prolong my active life. This is one of the reasons why my writer’s and journalistic work is claimed. It is contemporary and meets the demands of the present day.
Last year I finally overcame the artificial barriers, caused by ill-wishers and envious persons, and could make the first series of planned long ago series of scientific – documentary films about the history of Crimean Tatars. The film had public’s recognition and even success. And the stronger was the agitation of the envious persons, because for them my work is just one more reminder of their hack. However, not only the envious persons, but also the bodies of power that interested in preserving the myths about Crimean Tatars instead of publication of true history of it are displeased with my human right defense and educational activity. The thirty year old situation repeats again when the evil forces united against me. But I think this time I will win. It’s a pity that I have to spend too much time to overcome these barriers. You know I won’t live forever.
In conclusion of such long interview I offer the readers confession that is absolutely uncharacteristic of me. I ask you in advance to regard it with a grain of humor, in other words, not very seriously. So:
Despite my genealogy, where all my ancestors both on maternal and paternal side up to the 15th generation were Mullahs I don’t conceal my atheistic orientation. Nevertheless, in defiance of every logic … Heavens protect me. What are the manifestations of it? Watching at myself for 75 years I noticed that if my enemies oppress me too shamelessly Heaven just takes them out of my way. At this, first, it happens without my participation, second, sometimes quite mercilessly. At this, for me there is nothing left but to state the fact of getting rid of deadly enemy.
Such cases happened not once in my life, that is why I can’t regard these cases as mere accidents. At this, being far from believing in mystics I, nevertheless, explain such cases in my life by manifestations of the Divine Providence. From here it is not far from acknowledgment of the existence of a destiny.
If so, everything is explained very simply. I’m Kudus that in Russian stands for “sacred”. Wise people do not fight against sacred people. It is dangerous.
Now, after these words you can either laugh or not.