Person in History

THE YEAR 2012 is declared the Year of the Russian History by the decree of the President of the Russian Federation. Indeed, the current year is marked by the bicentennial of Russia's victory in the Patriotic war of 1812, the 1150‑th anniversary of the Russian statehood as well as by other epoch-making dates. We believe that this remarkable year will contribute to the further development and prosperity of our multinational country consolidating friendly ties between its peoples.

Grasped by the bustle and tempo of modern living we sometimes lose wisdom and patience, we have no time to stop, to look back and weigh up the past so as to perceive the future. Meanwhile, we have what to learn and we have who to learn from. At all times the history was created and is still created mainly by humans: each historical epoch is marked by eminent personalities, by those significant figures that had exerted influence, in one way or another, on the course of crucial events. These personalities, for their most part, differed from their contemporaries in a sharper view of the existing life outlines, in their all-embracing deference to the destinies of the humanity and, of course, in high flight of thought. As much as generations would change, they will remain in human memory — like bright stars that outshine others and even when dying leave long-lasting glitter as an eternal reminding of them. Not to remember this people is impossible, to forget them is a crime.

Today we will commemorate with a deep and sincere gratitude one of the outstanding representatives of his nation and his epoch, we will remember step-by-step the history of his difficult but indeed legendary life. He is Botashev Magomet Abdurzakovich, a significant figure in the Karachay-Cherkess republic history, a remarkable politician and statesman.

His simplicity and modesty, sensitiveness and responsiveness, analytical mind and strong will-power proved out in party-and-state activities and earned him due respect and nationwide recognition in Karachay-Cherkessia. His work was many times marked by official commendations of the state authorities. In order to immortalize the name of this merited son of Karachay people, an Honorary Citizen of the city of Cherkessk, grateful compatriots installed a memorial plaque in the capital of the Karachay-Cherkess republic. Streets and squares in the republic are named after Botashev Magomet.

Everything in order, though.
Far at the southern border of Russia there is a place called Karachay-Cherkesia, a land of unique picturesque beauty. Magnificent mountain peaks, deep ravines, shadowy woods and flowering meadows make this country singular and especially magnetic for masses of tourists. In the very heart of these charms, high up in the mountains, an ancient Karachay village Khurzuk floats in clouds like an eagle-eyrie built beyond extraneous reach and eyes. This is the just place from where the legendary family of Botash originates. On the 5th of May 1921 the family of Batashev Naib celebrated the birth of its youngest member; the child was named by a common in the country but symbolic name Magomet. His parents- the father Abdurzak and the mother Kemiskhan — had already four daughters. The birth of the heir was a delightful event for them and especially for the entire ancient kin. But the joy, unfortunately, was not long. At the very first year of his life little Magomet lost his father, 35‑year-old Abdurzak, soon after his grandfather Naib died too. All the care of his brother's family heaped upon the shoulders of uncle Aslanbek. This genuinely dignified man honorably did his tutorial duty; till the end of his days he tirelessly bore the burden.

The first thing he did was to take his brother's family from Khurzuk to the city of Kislovodsk in order to provide the children with due education. Magomet lived up in full to his uncle's expectations: he studied assiduously and after seven-year school he finished studies with honors at the secondary school No 4 of Kislovodsk. We should mention here that the fate or lucky stars made him meet his compatriot Soltan Magomedov (in future — eminent military, colonel-general) who was also born in Khurzuk and studied at the same school. The boys had a lot in common, they became friends. This school friendship strengthened over the years and lasted for a long time. Their life ways will cross many times, in different circumstances, in different corners of the world and each time the opportunity will bring them together. These two prominent representatives of the Karachay people will remember their youth, their homeland. They will have years singed by the flame of the war behind them, years of everyday patient toil to restore the ruined country and later important missions in foreign countries as representatives of the great power. And moreover, they both will have almost complete set of government decorations shining on their breasts — orders and medals for the bravery in battle and for the valorous work for the Homeland's welfare.
Thus, in 1939, after leaving the secondary school in Kislovodsk, Magomet Botashev entered the Kirov Industrial Institute in Tbilisi. But the call-up for the military service foiled the first-year student's plans, Magomet was sent to the school of junior command personnel of the 376‑th artillery regiment dislocated in Morshansk, Tambov region. The armed conflict with Finland burst out in 1939 and interrupted his studies at the military school; the regiment was hastily transferred to the Karelia isthmus and redeployed near Vyborg. Here, in the course of combats to breach so-called Mannerheim defense line, the young soldier got his baptism of fire. Fights against Finnish troops were brief but fierce. The enemy's capitulation cost the regiment dear: many comrades-in-arms perished, losses of combat equipment were also huge. After two months of fights the regiment returned victoriously to Morshansk. However the breathing space proved to be short: two months later the regiment was included in the contingent of Kiev special frontier guard district and took part in the liberation campaign in Western Ukraine. Here, on the edge of the country, at 30 km' distance from the Romanian border, the young soldier Magomet Botashev rose to the rank of platoon sub-commander and continued his military service.

The fateful dawn of June 22, 1941 surprised Magomet at the western border of our country. Soldiers were woken up by deafening explosions of bombs. It was the early days of the war against fascist Germany, a very long, fierce and bloody one. Having underestimated the situation, the command authorities ordered to rush to the attack and to throw the enemy back. But the enemy had overwhelming odds. It turned out that platoon sub-commander Magomet Botashev and his companions were on the very front line and felt themselves the enemy's military might. After came day-to-day arduous soldier toil, days mixed up: with long sanguinary battles and short fierce fights, manpower and materiel losses, first wound, field hospitals... But the worst was the bitter of retreat. And then: new battles, new wounds. Magomet participated almost in all major events of the war — in the battle of Stalingrad, in Korsun-Schevtchenko operation, in fights for Donbas and Kharkov, he forced water barriers of the Dnieper and Don. At last, at the cost of enormous efforts the army drove off the enemy to the West and the retreat gave place to the offensive campaign. The soldiers dreamed about cherished Victory, it was in the foreseeable future, they dreamed about returning home. Not all had the luck to return home from the battle fields and enjoy the fame of victors. There was a special contingent of soldiers and officers who underwent a less glorious return — through Red Army rear units. They were those whose origin was from nations submitted to deportation. On the eve of the Victory, a huge quantity of manpower and war material was concentrated behind the Vistula River, waiting for crossing. It was so-called Sandomierz springboard and it was just here that Magomet Botashev, an artillery division party organizer, was informed about his transfer to a rear military district.

Magomet celebrated the Victory day in Ural region. In December 1945 he was demobilized and joined his family living at that time in the city of Belovodsk, Frunze region, Kirghizia. Hard war years didn't discourage him from the eager for education. In 1949 Magomet entered Tashkent Institute of Railway Transport Engineers. In 1948 he married Tamara Dudova and by the end of his studies they had their first child. In 1952, having graduated with honors from the institute, Magomet started working as an engineer of Turkestan-Siberia railway. It seemed that the life of our hero was progressively taking calm and measured turn. But Magomet Botashev was from that category of people who cannot live caring only of himself and his wellbeing. The thoughts about the destiny of his deported people, about necessity to bring the people back to the native land occupied him day and night. An intelligent and educated young man who had gone through two wars on end and had been awarded with many state decorations for bravery couldn't stay unnoticed: surroundings felt drawn by his charisma, esteemed him and respected his opinion. Afterwards he would justify completely his compatriots' confidence. Beginning from the first half of fifties Magomet Botashev actively participated in the movement for the return of peoples deported from the North Caucasus. The first telegram from Kirghizia to Moscow demanding abrogation of the ill-fated decree on deportation was signed and sent to the destination by Magomet Botashev. Following the telegram, activists of the movement decided to delegate a group of people representatives to Moscow. According to the words of M. Botashev, among those who prepared the delegation were Magomet Akbaev, Mukhadjir Salpagarov, Rakay Aliev, Islam Chotchaev and others. Their efforts gave progressively good results: Magomet Botashev and his compatriots Khamzat Baboev, Boris Uzdenov, Khalit Borlakov, after six-month training in Moscow, left for Karachay-Cherkessia to organize their compatriots' resettlement. At the same time Magomet Botashev was appointed Second secretary of Karachay district committee of CPSU and named later Chairman of Karachay-Cherkess regional planning commission. Having the official status, he arrived with other comrades to the Central Asia in order to fulfil the important mission of resettlement.

In 1962, considering his large experience of party-and-state activity, the regional committee of CPSU took the decision to send him to the Higher Communist party school where he studied till 1964. Competent, moderate, with rich store of theoretical knowledge he was appointed head of industry and transport department and secretary of Karachay-Cherkess regional committee of the Communist Party. Having regard to the infinite faith of citizens, earned authority and his experience, Magomet Botashev was charged perhaps with the heaviest responsibility that had never had before in his life. In 1966 he was designated as Chairman of Karachay-Cherkess Executive Committee and was elected deputy of the Russian Federation Supreme Council (and of three convocations in succession).

During this period of his work Magomet Botashev managed to do so much for the benefit of our republic that possibly no one could do. It is the opinion of his colleagues who worked side by side with him during many years, who knew his reverent attitude towards people and their problems. The common opinion is that the Karachay-Cherkess republic owes its actual face to the personal efforts of Magomet Botashev who foresaw to lay the foundation of the regional industry, to develop agricultural potential, to build social facilities. There was one more feature that distinguished Magomet Botashev from other managers of the rank: he always was sincere and approachable to common people. Being constantly busy he always found time to discuss their daily problems.

Highly appreciating M. Botashev's work, the former first secretary of the CPSU regional committee V. Murakhovsky wrote: ''The life of each person is judged by the trace he left behind. During the period when Magomet Abdurzakovitch was chairman of Karachay-Cherkess regional executive committee, the mechanical rubber plant rose and strengthened, as well as the cement plant, the radio components plant, Urup mining-and-processing works. Such townships as Udarny, Bukovo, Mednogorsky, Moskovsky and others appeared on the map of the republic. He had a good team of competent, purposeful specialists. Magomed Abdurzakovitch himself created this team. He had a knack for choosing people and he had the skill to consolidate them.''

The above list can be completed by other projects such as the construction or renovation of the Cherkessk cooling machinery plant, of eight Kuban hydropower plant units, of several Cherkessk chemical plant shops, of the regional drama theatre, of the music college in Cherkessk and music schools in district towns, of the Stavropol polytechnical institute branch and of other socially-significant facilities. Nearly 2000 km of high voltage lines were pulled, the life in towns and villages became more comfortable, Cherkessk — the administrative and industrial center of the region — completely changed its look. As it was said before, this is also a considerable merit of the team that M. Botashev could rally and direct to constructive labor. Only a wise and competent leader, enjoying confidence and esteem could do it. The chairman of Stavropol region executive committee I. Taranov would write later in his memoirs about M. Botashev: ''... During his 14‑year-long work as chairman of Karachay-Cherkess executive committee, he did probably more than anybody else could do for the economical and social development of the region included at that time in Stavropol territory. His name is associated with the region's industrial potential development, with creation of multinational collectives, with the construction and renovation of townships, with the amelioration of mountain pastures. He never fussed, never spread himself too thin and never scratch the surface wasting time on routine. All he did was marked by thoroughness and profundity of thought.''

The first secretary of Stavropol CPSU regional committee L. Efremov has strikingly described M. Botashev personality in his book: ''... Those of M. Botashev's type can be rated as people who were not only created by the time but who themselves created the time forging it sparing no efforts. Without depreciating merits of each of them, I'll say a few good words about Magomet Abdurzakovitch Botashev, son of Karachay... He carried the fidelity to his soviet fatherland, to human fraternity through years and decades; he was an outstanding patriot expressing indissoluble unity of patriotism and internationalism, strengthening unity and freedom between peoples of multinational Karachay-Cherkessia. Everybody who knew Magomet Abdurzakovitch, who worked with him, can confirm that every time he ascended a new life stair he always took a new burden of responsibility of the noble cause he served selflessly. He fostered in himself features of a citizen with the patriot's heart able to assume all responsibility and, thus, to overcome hardship he had after all''.

The aforesaid permits to conclude: Magomet Botashev had huge credence of a person and also of a leader; so that's where the secret of common people's and comrades' support. A very precious aid was lent to him at that time by the USSR Prime Minister Aleksey Kosygin with whom he had friendly relations, who often met him and talked to him. His human qualities were highly appreciated by Yuri Andropov, K. Mazurov, D. Kunaev and other leaders of the former Soviet Union. Magomet Abdurzakovitch was party chief of the higher echelon and carried out major missions in different corners of the world. In 1979 the communist party and the government charged Magomet Botashev with an important task abroad — he was appointed vice commercial representative in Poland. In some measure, the nomination was symbolic, because you know that our hero finished the war in Poland liberating the country from fascist invaders. According to the words of Magomet Abdurzakovitch, ''all the transport ministries of our country — rail transport, automobile transport, sea and air transport- had their offices in Poland. Considering that big oil and gas pipe lines traversed Poland going from our country to Western Europe there were also representatives of Neftexport and Gasexport, affiliate companies of The Ministry of foreign trade. First, I was charged to supervise these companies in order to coordinate their activity and to ensure uninterrupted export and import flow. I knew this job because my main specialty was a rail transport engineer. That's why I easily found the common language with our and Polish transport ministries. Good relations and mutual understanding were quickly formed with the Ministry of Polish railways, sea port and road transport administration, with the Polish Ministry of foreign trade and with managers of different export-import organizations. Business relations were established with the administration of Krakow, Katovice, Warsaw steel plants, of sulfur mine in Tarnobrzeg, of coal mine in Katovice, of machinery plant in Warsaw.'' It is necessary to take notice that this period of Soviet-Polish relations was not easy. In this situation a huge importance of success was attached to professional skills of the representatives both sides. The fact of Magomet Abderzakovich's nomination at such an important diplomatic position proves again his personal qualities: great competence, analytical mind, political foresight. That's why in spite of unfavorable conjuncture he brightly coped with the task: commercial relations between two countries gained in strength.

Unfortunately, time is inexorable. In 1987 Magomet Abdurzakovich returned to Kislovodsk where he had finished school, from where he was called-up for military service. Then he moved to the village Krasny Kurgan in Karachay-Cherkess republic. But measured life of retiree, though of national standing, could not suit him. Used to lead an active life, Magomet Abdurzakovitch plunged immediately into social work: he took part in the activities of Kislovodsk and Karachay-Cherkess veterans' organizations, he became member of Stavropol regional council of war and labor veterans. In nineties, when interethnic contradictions have dangerously aggravated in the republic, he rendered invaluable assistance to the authorities contributing to interethnic consolidation, preservation of republic integrity, enhancement of its sovereignty. In 1999, as an accredited representative of the candidate for the presidency of the Karachay-Cherkess republic General Semenov, he held a lot of meetings with compatriots discussing burning political questions related to the difficult period of the republic establishment. In 2001, Magomet Abdurzakovitch was elected chairman of the interethnic consultative council under the President of Karachay-Cherkessia. At this period he worked a lot, he held consultations with republican scientific corps to discuss urgent problems of ethnic culture development, took part in all the important socio-political events in Karachay-Cherkess republic and in Stavropol region.

Motherland highly appreciated Magomet Botashev's merits, his military feats and long-period peaceful labor for the benefit of the country and the people. On May 8, 2001, in the Kremlin, the President of the Russian Federation V. Putin decorated Magomet Botashev with the next award — The Order of Friendship of Peoples. If we told about orders and medals that this distinguished man was awarded with, it would be a long list of high decorations he had received at war and peace time. These are: Order of Patriotic War of 1‑st grade, Order of the Red Star, three Orders of the Red Banner of Labor, Order ''Sign of Honor'', Order of Friendship of Peoples, Order ''For the Service to Homeland'', medal ''For the Bravery'', medal ''For the Defense of Stalingrad'', medal ''For the Victory over Germany'', four commemorative medals ''Victory in GPW'', medal ''For the Defense of Kiev'', three commemorative medals of Soviet Union Armed Forces, medal ''For Valorous Work'', golden medal ''For Achievements in National Economy'', medal ''Veteran of Labor'', medal of the order ''For the Service to Homeland'', four official commendations from the Supreme Commander in Chief Marshal of the Soviet Union I. Stalin, certificate of honor of the Council of the Russian Federation and the list is long...

The day of M. Botashev's memorial plaque inauguration coincided with the Day of Karachay people resurgence. It was not by chance. The President of Karachay-Cherkess republic Boris Ebzeev said on that day: ''Magomet Botashev was awarded with the highest decorations for feats of arms, but I've never seen orders or medals on his breast. It was quite a particular period in his life when he was at the head of the regional Council of Deputies. One should be Botashev to remain, even in those conditions, a respectable man of a pure soul. He is the example of absolute decency and honesty towards himself, his conscience towards citizens of Stavropol region and Karachay-Cherkessia. The main fortune of a human is people's memory and esteem. Magomed Abdurzakovich gained this fortune in full. ''

On May 6, 2006 the heart of the legendary man who had done so much for his native republic and for peoples living in it stopped. He never liked high-flown words and always avoided flattery. These are words he addressed to compatriots, to whom he had entirely devoted his life: ''... I am deeply convinced that Karachay-Cherkessia has a great future ahead if everybody in his place works honestly, observes the law; then, citizens of our republic will not live worse than in any other region of Russia. Nobody knows how long one will live. I'd like to live more in my dear flowering Karachay-Cherkessia among its wonderful multinational people...''

On September 20, 2012 the monument dedicated to M. A. Botashev was inaugurated in the city of Cherkessk. The event brought together the grateful residents from all corners of the Republic, guests from the near and far abroad and all those who knew him and worked with him side by side.

By Alla Chotchaeva


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«Золотая площадь». Международный журнал культурной и деловой жизни.
The Golden Plaza. International Magazine of Culture and Business.
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