06/03/2021, 11.13
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Tashkent, President Mirziyoyev’s daughter destroys archaeological sites

by Vladimir Rozanskij

Sports complex built on the remains of a 1,600-year-old city. The new building is now in ruins. Damages for millions of euros. The opportunism of the ruling family puts very ancient monuments at serious risk.

Moscow (AsiaNews) - Two years have passed since Saida Mirziyoyeva, the eldest daughter of Uzbekistan president Shavkat Mirziyoyev, launched her "five projects" in the Bukinsk province, Tashkent region.

The first among them was a youth center built on an archaeological site dating back to the 4th century: now the new building is falling into disrepair.

The construction of the sports-recreational complex, which began in 2019, included dozens of buildings and a fitness club: according to the most modest estimates for a cost of 2 billion som (about 156 thousand euros).

At the foot of the hill where the most modern buildings are located, there is an ancient monument, which testifies to the existence of the city of Samsarak, also called Mukhtepa or Ajdartiepa, although there are no comprehensive historical documents on it.

The area destroyed by the construction covers 12,646 square meters, and the economic damage to the ancient city is calculated by the Uzbekistan cultural heritage department at 239 billion som (18.6 million euros). The Bukinsk court sentenced some local public officials, who were blamed for the damage done.

The regional prosecutor of Tashkent has put forward a control plan "for the custody and use of the objectives of cultural and archaeological heritage", asking the provincial administration to compensate for the multi-billion dollar damages. As it was impossible to pay these astronomical sums, the court confiscated all the youth center buildings.

Now no one knows how to demolish the buildings on the ancient hill, also because the regulations of the Department of Culture itself prohibit the use of excavators and other construction tools on the site.

Ironically, the place now features modern ruins that stand on top of ancient ruins. Today only stray dogs and other wild animals live on the presidential project, created by Mirziyoyeva with the high patronage of the Ministry for Technological Development.

Uzbek architect and art historian Abumalik Turdiev told Ozodlik that the 1,600-year-old city hill was a subject of ongoing research by archaeologists from all over the world. Samsarak is mentioned in the Baburname, the memoir of one of Tamerlane's heirs, Zahir al-Din Muhammed Babur, according to whom the city prospered in the most flourishing period of Zoroastrianism, the main religion of Central Asia between the sixth century BC and the 10th century AD

The city was buried inside the hill, and to avoid further damage it had been placed under guardianship even in the times of the Soviet Union. The archaeological passion, on the other hand, seems to have waned considerably in independent Uzbekistan, where Mirziyoyeva's "five projects" were presented by the official press as "world events" with top-level national personalities at the launch in 2019.

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