Monday, July 29, 2019

Georgia: Tbilisi's Auto Museum

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Moskvich 403E
I had no idea how interesting a car museum could be until I visited Tbilisi's Auto Museum. Highly recommended.

Founded by Georgian businessman and collector Giorgi Mamulashvili, this private museum boasts over 30 models of superbly restored, iconic Soviet vintage cars and motorcycles. It is one of the world's largest collections of Soviet vehicles.

Museum director, Rezo, guides visitors with fascinating tales of each and every car - in Russian, English and Georgian. Many have been sourced from former Soviet republics.

Post WWII, the Soviets competed not just in the space race, but on every level to demonstrate the superiority of their political system.

Soviet engineers modelled cars from European and American designs - at times these were blatant copies, at other times cool elements from a foreign model were incorporated into a Soviet car.

In the 1960s, private car ownership was on the rise and it was decided to build a "people's car". For reasons of cost-efficiency, they chose to sign a licence agreement with a foreign company and produce the car on the basis of an existing, modern model. Several options were considered, including Volkswagen, Ford, Peugeot, Renault and Fiat.

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Volga GAZ M21
The Fiat 124 was chosen because of its simple and sturdy design, being easy to manufacture and repair. The plant was built in just 4 years (1966–1970) in the small town of Stavropol Volzhsky, which later grew to a population of more than half a million.

Stavropol was renamed Togliatti to commemorate Palmiro Togliatti, the Italian politician and leader of the Italian Communist Party.

The first VAZ-2101, named Zhiguli within the Soviet Union and Lada for export markets, was a rugged model to handle the poor roads, Ladas were also designed to be easily maintained by owners as there were few auto-repair shops.

The museum includes models of the much-feared KGB cars, that could accelerate incredibly fast to nab people off the streets, or follow foreign diplomats! There are Zaporozhets, Chaikas and Pobedas. All the vehicles are registered and participate in various regional festivals. I happily spent two hours there. (More photos below.)

How to visit:

The museum is in an industrial complex and can be a tad difficult to find. Catch the metro to Varketili and then a taxi. The museum is about 5 kms away via the Kakheti Highway Service Rd - ask the driver to wait. (Better still invite the driver to the museum). Round trip taxi fare and waiting time was about US$12.

Address: Auto Museum Street #7 next to Grigol Lortkipanidze street
Telephone: +995 599 54 56 28 (Keep it handy so the driver can call if lost).
Opening hours: Daily except Mondays, from 11:00 - 18:00.
Entrance fee: GEL 10 (about US$3.50)

Related posts:
Georgia: State Silk Museum, Tbilisi
A 19th century Georgian Painter in Uzbekistan - Gigo Gabashvili
The Blue Tablecloths of Georgia: New Life of an Old Tradition
Georgia: Soviet Modernist Mosaics from 1960 to 1990

tbilisis georgia car museum, auto museums tbilisi georgia, tourism georgia tours



tbilisis georgia car museum, auto museums tbilisi georgia, tourism georgia tours

tbilisis georgia car museum, auto museums tbilisi georgia, tourism georgia tours

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Soviet Asia: Soviet Modernist Architecture in Central Asia

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Avesto Hotel, Dushanbe, Tajikistan. Image: Stefano Perego
Uzbek Journeys travellers, and readers of this website, know that I have a particular fondness for Soviet architecture.

Italian photographers Roberto Conte and Stefano Perego crossed the former Soviet republics of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, documenting buildings constructed from the 1950s until the fall of the USSR.

The resulting images showcase the majestic, largely unknown, modernist buildings of the region. Museums, housing complexes, universities, circuses, ritual palaces – all were constructed using a composite aesthetic.

Influenced by Persian and Islamic architecture, pattern and mosaic motifs articulated a connection with Central Asia. Grey concrete slabs were juxtaposed with colourful tiling and rectilinear shapes broken by ornate curved forms: the brutal designs normally associated with Soviet-era architecture were reconstructed with Eastern characteristics.

Conte and Perego travelled through the region in 2018. Since then, some outstanding examples of Soviet Modernism have been demolished and it is poignant to view them again in this collection. Tashkent's stunning Dom Kino - House of Cinema - is no more. Other fine examples are under threat.

This excellent book is published by Fuel Design and Publishing, an innovative group based in London. Other interesting Fuel titles about the Soviet Union include volumes 1 and 2 of Soviet Bus Stops, Holidays in Soviet Sanatoriums, Looking for Lenin and CCCP (USSR) Cook Book.

More images below.

Related posts
Holidays in Soviet Sanatoriums
Back in the USSR: Soviet Roadside Architecture
Kyrgyzstan's Bus Stops
Georgia: Soviet Modernist Mosaics from 1960 to 1990
Tashkent's Soviet Buildings
Seismic Modernism - Architecture and Housing in Soviet Tashkent


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Drilling tool plant, Samarkand. Image: Stefano Perego


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State Academic Russian Theatre for Children and Young People, Almaty. Image: Stefano Perego
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Bishkek circus. Image: Stefano Perego



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Exhibition Hall of the Uzbek Union of Artists, Tashkent. Image: Stefano Perego

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Kyrgyzstan Ends Statelessness in Historic First

Previously stateless, Nazgul Avaz Kyzy, 22, is now a full citizen of
Kyrgyzstan and able to work legally at a local café. Image: Chris de Bode UNHCR
Bravo Kyrgyzstan!

In a breakthrough in the global fight against statelessness,  Kyrgyzstan has become a leading example of how statelessness can be eradicated, by bringing the number of stateless people in the country from over 13,000 to zero in just five years.

Last week in a ceremony in the capital, Bishkek, 50 previously stateless people, including 15 children, were issued with birth certificates and passports, making them citizens.

They are the last known stateless people in Kyrgyzstan and will now have the same rights as any other citizen.

The break-up of the Soviet Union in the 1990s left hundreds of thousands of people throughout Central Asia stateless, including in Kyrgyzstan. Encouraged by the UNHCR-led #IBelong campaign that was launched in 2014 to end statelessness, the Government and partners had identified 13,700 people without nationality in the country. These included more than 2,000 children.

“Kyrgyzstan’s leadership on resolving known cases of statelessness is a remarkable example that I hope others will applaud and heed,” said Filippo Grandi, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. “My congratulations to all those who have received their citizenship today.”

Citizenship ceremony in Osh, 2018
Statelessness affects millions of people around the world, often denying them the basic rights and official recognition that most people take for granted.

Some 3.9 million stateless people appear in the reporting of 78 countries, but UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency believes the true total to be significantly higher.

Related posts:
Kyrgyz Space Program: Creating the First Kyrgyz Satellite Ever & It Will be Built by Girls
Kyrgyzstan: Social Entrepreneur Finds Foothold in Tien Shan Foothills
Kyrgyzstan: Yurt Preschools Reach Nomadic Children