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The Voice of Almaty: part 3 — The voice of the avenue.

The voice of the avenue

I am the voice of the avenue. I am a collective voice. I do not mean many voices collected in me, I mean that several times a year I gather my friends and acquaintances on our holidays and we party all night long. And we keep remembering.

My avenue has a story to tell, it used to change names more than any other place in the city. Of course it did not do it by its own will, the city authorities did. But every name reflected its time, just like the mirror does.

Prior to the Revolution while the city was in its early growth the Avenue started as one of the streets in the outskirts. It was named Old Cemetery Street (Rus: Starokladbishenskaya), and you probably won't believe me but it crossed Cemetery Street (Rus: Kladbishenskaya). One of the city cemeteries was located at the intersection of these two streets. My avenue, a street at that time kept this name to the thirties. The construction of Turkestan–Siberia Railway was begun in 1927.[1] The cemetery was demolished, Cemetery Street was prolonged with Turkmenskaya Street, at the end of which a Railway station was built; the street was given a new name – Railway Station Street (Rus: Vokzalnaya).

The times were changing; and the street was changing as well. Railway Station Street quickly turned into the main city street; an administrative, political, cultural, and business city center; it blossomed with flags and banners. On almost all buildings there were portraits of the leaders of the world proletariat – Marx, Engels, Lenin, and Stalin. The General Secretary of the Communist Party Stalin was thoroughly watching every single man of the huge country from the book pages, newspapers, cinema screens, painted canvases and boards. And almost every man believed that Stalin knew about everything. Railway Station Street was renamed Stalin Avenue.

Fifteen years later a new General Secretary announced that “socialism in one country” was developed in the wrong way with “excesses in the center and in the regions” and “the cult of personality”, but from that moment everything would change, we would build communism and finish it by 1983, at least the main part. Stalin Avenue was renamed Communist Avenue.

Communism was never built. The USSR collapsed. In the new independent Republic of Kazakhstan the Avenue was named Abylai Khan Avenue.

I am proud of my precious Avenue with its neighboring parks and squares, its buildings of library, main post office, and music conservatory. I love its restaurants and stores – Central Department Store, Main Toy Store, Stolichnyi Store, Yubileinyu Store. I admire KazakhConcert Hall, Writers Guild Building, the theatres, and railway station. I adore the people walking on the sideways and sitting on the park benches, I worship children’s laughter, I love this high blue sky.


The story of the Panfilov's Division, told by the Voice of the Avenue

August 18, 1941

Monday morning granny was taking Vitalik to the nursery school. Vitalik liked his nursery school; there was fun, many friends, delicious food, and you could take paints, colored pencils, and white paper. And you were allowed to draw as much as you wanted. They say Vitalik is a good boy – he draws very well. In fact these days he draws only war: guns, tanks, airplanes, blasts and little stick figures in green uniform. The figures run about the field between the tanks and blasts; and they are smiling. They know the war would soon be over and nobody would be killed, they all would stay alive.

Granny took Vitalik by the hand and so they went out. It was not a long way, just four quarters from their old wooden house on Issykulskaya Street to Furmanov Street. But this day Vitalik did not meet his friends. His granny and he stopped on the sidewalk among other people watching the soldiers marching on Stalin Avenue.

It was silence. There was only disorderly tramp of soldiers’ boots and then a sharp heartrending cry burst out and broke off, as if the woman’s mouth got shut with someone’s hand. And then there was silence again, whispering sighs were the only sound heard: “Our boys, our soldiers…”

The artillery passed by, followed with the marching soldiers again, then the cars with red crosses on the sides. Once more the soldiers marched in green uniform with their backpack sacks behind and their overcoats on the shoulders. None of the soldiers were smiling. Vitalik thought: “Why are they like this? Isn’t it great to serve at the front line? Isn’t it fun to hold a real rifle? Isn’t it jolly to run between the blasts?”

The riders followed the soldiers. There were not many of them, but all rode strong horses of all colors, wore national borik hats and robes with belts, and were armed with bows and arrows. “These are our boys…” - the whisper turned into sobbing, and suddenly as if a dam broke the women burst into tears and wails. As though it was an answer to their cries, the Farewell of Slavianka march blared loudly from the railway station – “Forgive-farewell, forgive-farewell…”

It was fifty eighth day of the Great Patriotic War. 316th[2] Rifle Division went to front line.



[1] The Turkestan–Siberian Railway (commonly abbreviated as the Turk–Sib) is a railway constructed in 1926-1931, it connects Central Asia with Siberia. It is one of the main construction of the USSR First Five-Year Plan. The idea of a railway between Siberia and Russian Turkestan was aired as early as 1886. On 15 October 1896 the Verny city council set up a commission to examine the feasibility of building a railway. After the Revolution USSR Council of Labour and Defence took their resolution on Turk-Sib constriction on 3 December 1926.

[2] 316the Division was formed in July and August 1941 in Alma-Ata (currently Almaty) and consisted of the 1073th, the 1075th, the1077th infantry regiments and the 857th artillery regiment. Major General Ivan Panfilov, the military commissar of the Kazakh SSR, was appointed its commander. Most of the soldiers were mobilized from Alma-Ata citizens (1075th infantry regiment), Nadezhdenskaya and Sofiyskaya villages (1073th infantry regiment), and Frunze (currently Bishkek) (1077th infantry regiment). They won glory in battles near Moscow, when they stifled an offensive by the German Army Group Centre on Moscow in October and November 1941. They are known for the exploits of so-called 28 Panfilov’s men. On 18 November 1941 it was assigned Guards status (8th Guards Division) for bravery and heroic deed. On 23 November 1941 the Division was named after commander Panfilov, who died in battle.


Elena Klepikova 2013


We have elaborated special virtual tour to travel across the festival map. Currently there are 18 spots to explore and to get familiar with the city. There will be more spots to explore soon.


Have nice trip to Almaty!

Artbatfest artbatfest
Международный фестиваль современного искусства ARTBAT FEST проект, объединяющий казахстанских и зарубежных участников различных направлений contemporary art. ARTBAT FEST 2013 пройдет в Алматы с 6 сентября по 6 октября 2013 года.
9 апреля 2013, 18:42



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