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“Uzbekistan Illustrated”: satire meets social networking

Editor’s Note: In the last few weeks, the Uzbek Facebook community has been roaring in laughter as a mysterious caricaturist unleashed his satirical vision of Uzbekistani society upon the social network. NewEurasia’s Eisenstein tells the amazing story and shares some of the hilarious art.

The Uzbek segment of Facebook is not the funniest place on earth. The state seeks to control all online social networks, so may users are afraid to use these platforms to speak their minds. But from time to time, there’s an explosion of satire.

The last two weeks, there’s been a craze among active Uzbek Facebook users about the “Uzbekistan Illustrated” page. It was launched on 17 October by an unknown artist, and in such a short time, it has gained enormous popularity. His page now has 2744 “likes”, and it seems that only the lazy aren’t participating in discussions on the page.

What is the basic idea of “Uzbekistan Illustrated”? Well, it’s actually really simple: make a new caricature everyday! Here are some of the choicest bits so far.

“Butt whenever you say hello! It’s a tradition, checked up by time.”

Cleaning, event-photo, glamorous portraitt, masonry, plumber, wedding-photo, fusion video — do you want me for this job?

Behold! The power of [an official] document!

[Man from black cash market:] “I have dollars, Russian roubles, Kazakh tenge!”

And in honor of the Halloween ban:

“Hello, I’m Batman! I’m Superman! Candies or death?”

Halloween’s tomorrow. How we will celebrate?

People are raving about these cartoons! And everyone’s wondering just who is this artist, who would dare to draw such satirical cartoons about our society? He’s committing potential kamikaze!

So, no one was surprised when, after only two weeks of operation, “Uzbekistan Illustrated”‘s creators, while remaining anonymous, said they had been threatened (via a private Facebook communiqué). That didn’t slow them down, though:

How they sharpen their teeth for us.
[People from background:] “Hey, comrade, we need this file too!”

And then they proceeded to publish the text of the threat:

Mnogim moim znakomym ne nravyatsya nekotorye vashi raboty na veb-sayte: pro miliciyu, zam. Hokimov, aeroport, etc. Vot dumayu est’ i drugie kotoryx eto zadelo lichno, poetomu i “razoblachaem”. Pust’ znayut nashego geroya. A esli vy boites’, pravil’no delaete. Na vas uje nemalo lyudey zub tochyat. Sorry za ottenok negativa. Lyublyu govorit’ pravdu. Dlya uzbekov karikatura shtuka novaya.

A lot of my friends don’t like some of your works: about police, municipal bosses, airport, etc. I think that there are many more people who are also offended by your pictures. That’s why we want to unmask you. Let everybody know who is our “hero”. And if you are scared, that’s the correct feeling. A lot of people want to harm you. Sorry for the negative emotions, but I like to tell the truth. Caricature is a new thing for Uzbeks.

Well, the readers were thrilled! Still, many were anxious that the artist is in danger. And then, yesterday, remarkably, he came out of the shadows. It’s none other than well-known Uzbek caricaturist and cartoonist Jasur Rakhimov. He manages this page along with his wife from inside his home in the United States.

Alas, Rakhimov turned down my offer for an interview. I hope one day he’ll be willing to talk with NewEurasia. But in the meantime, we’re more than happy to introduce the world to his work. Check out his website and blog!

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