Shoot Me: how to winter in Uzbekistan

A resident of Samarkand Region
People are facing this winter a situation which was faced by residents of Leningrad during the Nazi siege in WWII, experts of the Shoot Me society believe.

Experts of Shoot Me – author Rifat Gumerov, film critic Oleg Karpov and filmmaker Alisher Hamdamov – discussed the forthcoming winter and heating problems in Uzbekistan in the latest issue of the Shoot Me video programme.

“I, like the early 20th century traveller Nalivkin, once thought Uzbekistan had a mild climate: we have eight months of warmth and four months of cold,” Gumerov said. “I realised in my whole flat the only area which is not sealed off is a balcony, as I decided that for the sake of fresh air it was much more beneficial and practical than to seal the balcony off for the sake of only four months.”

“Everything would have been good but heating radiators are not warm this year and I have only one warm radiator in the entire two-bedroom flat,” Hamdamov said. “That is why I decided since thermal power stations were built a long time ago, it is not worth complaining about it, recalling how when people complained in Soviet times a local neighbourhood leader used to tell them: ‘People have short memories, don’t you remember how people lived in besieged Leningrad?”

“Generally, in some areas we have the very same Leningrad siege,” Karpov said. “Because people are being directly told to buy their own coal and install heaters.”

“I personally do not understand how it could be solved,” Hamdamov said. “When a new block of flats is being built, one can devise a heating system for it, but most existing blocks of flats were built some time ago.”

“Listen, but we did have heating in our homes 20 years ago,” Karpov argued back.

“But everything wears out and now heating systems should be replaced in old blocks of flats,” Hamdamov insisted.

“Isn’t it cold in our country because our gas is sold to China? I understand Chinese need it more than we do, and this is directly linked to the birthrate: the cold the higher birthrate,” Karpov suggested. “Because people crowd closer to become warmer, whereas Chinese need to lower their birthrate a bit, so they need heating. To tell the truth, how will we survive this winter?”

“It seems to me the problem of heating in our country is a bit exaggerated,” Gumerov said. “I believe four months of cold could be somehow managed when compared with Norislk [in Siberia]. Secondly, I have noticed when the country faces shortages of something, this always encourage people to be inventive.”

“Does this mean if there are shortages of something, then it will be in abundance?” Karpov asked.

“No, health will improve in the country,” Gumerov said. “The point is that, I have noticed, a majority of people who had gone through Stalin’s gulags are centenarians.”
“Except for those, who died?” Karpov asked.

“No, except for those who worked as managers who died quickly because they were troubled by their conscientiousness,” Gumerov said. “Those who were in prisons had a regime: they did not have alcohol, there were shortages of tobacco, but they worked in the timber industry in the cold which strengthened their bodies and they did not eat meat.”

“There was another problem – psychological: people did not count those years in prison as life and when they were set free they started living like humans.”

Details of the discussion about heating problems in Uzbekistan in winter and in conditions of survival in any totalitarian state are in the latest issue of the joint video programme by the Shoot Me open society and