Rise and Fall: January 20, 1990

On March 7th 1990 my dad was filming my brother's 5th birthday - a small family event at my grandparents' place. As we were very talky and want-to-act-for-the-camera kids, everyone would ask us questions: "Rustam, can you count all the players of "Spartak Moskva"?"

"Sure!", replies my brother and starts counting names.  Then go several questions of this kind and another one for me from my grandma's brother:

"N, can you tell me what bullets were used by the Soviet Army on January 20th?".

"Yes!", I say "Tracer bullets!".


I was only 4 years old when it happened, so don't remember a lot. But I do remember the sounds of shooting coming somewhere from the street and my mom hiding us under the bed. I remember my dad putting on his clothes, preparing to go out with his crew and film everything, and my mom standing in the door asking him not to do it.

And the spirit. The spirit of pure fight, mixed with dirty intentions and provocations coming from all the sides.  When people didn't actually know who to fight - friends or enemies. But they did fight for justice, trying to stop the tanks, the shooting, and the chaos.

For a while after the tragedy of January 20, people from all the city would bring the videos they made on home cameras to the secret office of a group of cinema people, who later made an investigative documentary about this tragedy, which showed several proofs of the KGB provocation leading to this tragedy. The film would be hiddenly distributed among people, literally from one hands to another. The creators would be threatened, interrogated, their houses searched for he proof of betrayal.

Later there were millions of people on the streets, broken walls, teared down monuments, the truth, the war, the migration, new country, new history, new hopes, new people, new nation, new lies and new walls - stronger, higher, oilier.

It's been 20 years since the tragedy, and I'm not a four-year-old who knows what bullets were used on January 20th anymore. But I know for sure, that I wouldn't want my kids to know what is tracer bullet at the age of 4, to watch their mom edit scary footages of tragedy, or hear their dad calling from the KGB, war zone, or a demonstration.

But if they do ever witness another rise of this nation, I definitely wouldn't want them to be as sorry as we are for what we did to the country thousands of people sacrificed their lives for.


It's been 20 years since the tragedy of 20th January, which killed 130 and injured around 700 people.

Allah rehmet elesin.