On December 2, Shirin Tosheva, the former chief curator of the Urgench City Art Gallery, reported that the National Security Service (SNB) of Uzbekistan had carried out inspections in the gallery. According to Shirin Tosheva, a member of the local SNB of Urgench, who introduced himself as Anvar and was accompanied by three members of the city administration, ordered the removal and burning of eight paintings by the artist Vyacheslav Akhunov and 16 paintings by Shukhrat Babadjanov from the gallery archives.
The paintings were purchased by the Ministry of Culture of the Soviet Union and were stored in the gallery archive.
According to the art critic Boris Chukhovich from the University of Montreal (Canada),
“it is clear that, in the eyes of the SNB, the main problem does not lie in the content of the work, but in the names of their authors: Vyacheslav Akhunov has not been allowed to leave Uzbekistan by the order of the authorities for many years; and Shukhrat Babadjanov lives in exile and is engaged in opposition activities.”
At stake are only the works of artists who have spoken out against the authorities. The artworks have not been destroyed thanks to the courage and firmness of the former chief gallery curator Shirin Tosheva who was dismissed on December 1, 2016. The uncertain fate of the paintings is now at the mercy of Uzbek officials.
These are the paintings of Shukrat Babadjanov at stake: