Sharaf Rashidov – Man and Politician

Celebrating the 105th anniversary of his birth

In the autumn of 2022 the 105th anniversary of the birth of Sharaf Rashidovich Rashidov will be celebrated. A famous statesman of Uzbekistan and the Soviet Union, he made a huge personal contribution to the economic and social development of Uzbekistan between 1959-83 when he was leader of the ruling Communist Party of the Republic.

October 31, 2022 will mark the 39th anniversary of Rashidov’s death. The past years have been full of events, including those related to the memory of this man. Initially, the government passed a major resolution to perpetuate his name, but soon after a campaign sought to discredit him posthumously. In the 1980s, a wave of publications continued for several years in the central media, in which Rashidov was essentially declared the organiser and inspirer of all kinds of negative phenomena in Uzbekistan. The decree on perpetuating Rashidov’s memory was revoked. His ashes were reburied from the city centre to the Chigatay city cemetery.

Nevertheless, Uzbekistan has maintained a deep respect for Rashidov’s memory throughout these years. People never believed the slanderous publications and far-fetched accusations against him. In 2017, the country widely celebrated the 100th anniversary of Rashidov. During the celebrations in Jizzakh, President Mirziyoyev opened a monument to him in his homeland. The district of Jizzakh was renamed the Sharaf Rashidov district. 

In 1991 I was given a unique opportunity to obtain access, to the “holy of holies” – the previously closed documents of the Party Archives of Uzbekistan. The documents of Rashidov’s personal file, his extensive personal correspondence, and other archival documents as well as meetings and conversations with dozens of associates and my personal observations helped to dismiss the accusations against him in the media in the 1980s.

In the course of my work with documents and reflections, I began to form an image of a rare and multi-faceted and talented prodigy. He was a real Uzbek intellectual, encyclopaedically educated, who had an infused desire to do good for others. Rashidov sharply suppressed attempts to distort reporting, embezzlement, deception of the state, and demanded that those who allowed this be brought to justice. He did not tolerate lies, deceit, and parade. 

One of the main sources of information about Rashidov as a man and a politician is his personal correspondence. His rich epistolary archive makes a powerful impression. Rashidov’s correspondence reveals the generosity of his soul and the kindness of his heart, as well as the love and great respect that he enjoyed not only in Uzbekistan but also beyond its borders. 

Rashidov sincerely loved people, reaching out to them, and they reciprocated in return. As First Secretary of the Central Committee, he spent a lot of time on business trips. He was constantly in the midst of people. He finds warm words for everyone he talks to. After a conversation with him, people would leave feeling elated and inspired. His respectful and sincere attitude, coupled with deep attention to the person he was talking to, easily won people over. Rashidov impressed many people with his talent for communication, kindness, caring, and ability to hold a captivating and exciting conversation with his interlocutors. They admired his profound knowledge of ancient and modern history and modern literature. 

Studying the letters, memoirs of comrades-in-arms and other documents, one concludes: in Moscow, in the Politburo, in ministries and departments, in the union republics, Rashidov’s human and business potential, his intelligence, friendliness and internationalism were very highly valued. Uzbekistan under his leadership was a winner in the All-Union socialist competition from year to year. All this aroused respect in Moscow. 

There is no doubt that Rashidov’s role in the rapid development of Uzbekistan’s productive forces in the 1960s-1980s was significant, and perhaps even decisive. He understood that the republic had a high population growth rate. In 1959, there were 8.5 million people, while in 1983 there were 17.0 million. In less than 24 years the population had doubled. He saw that it was necessary to create new jobs, and improve the conditions and quality of life of people. He helped develop and irrigate new lands, build new roads, cities, and develop new sectors of the economy. 

As a result, in the 1960s-80s the agrarian republic was transformed into an agrarian-industrial republic. More than 2 million hectares of new lands were watered and developed, hundreds of industrial enterprises were built in all regions. Among them are the famous giants of non-ferrous metallurgy and gold mining, such as the Almalyk and Navoi Mining and Metallurgical Combines. Thousands of kilometres of new roads and railroads, dozens of cities and towns appeared on the map of the republic.

Hi work couldn’t have been carried out without his team. Rashidov’s talent as an outstanding organiser, deep insight, and knowledge of people and their psychology, allowed him to select and place people around him who could work selflessly. These were creative, ambitious, enterprising people, excellent organisers and specialists. They worked confidently, constantly felt the business support, attention, and respect of Rashidov. When necessary, the leader of the Republic came to their aid, appealed to the Centre and the Union ministries to solve the most difficult issues.

Fate and history had wished Sharaf Rashidov to be “in the right place at the right time”. After heading Uzbekistan for almost a quarter of a century under the conditions of a centralised union state, limitation of rights and possibilities of the republics, thanks to the rarest gift of man and politician Sharaf Rashidov managed to achieve the maximum possible for its social and economic development. A powerful scientific, industrial and social infrastructure was created, as well as an atmosphere of friendship and co-operation among millions of people of different nationalities.

Sharaf Rashidov has remained in the hearts and memory of millions of people. The following lines of the great poet Alisher Navoi are fully applicable to him, a faithful son of the Uzbek people:

Since the best of men must pass through Death’s portal,

Happy is he who makes his name immortal.

Information about the author:

Rizaev Saidakbar Rizaevich – Doctor of Historical Sciences, Director of Scientific-Technical Enterprise “ITM-TASHABBUS” Ltd.