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Tajikistan bans film Nasha Russia: Yaitsa Sudby
Officials cite portrayal of Tajik migrants
By Rukhshona Ibragimova
DUSHANBE -- A rich Muscovite hires Ravshan and Jamshud to do some repair work.
The apartment owner tells them he expects a good job.
But Ravshan and Jamshud are migrant workers in the Nasha Russia: Yaitsa Sudby comedy, so they make a mess.
To some, it’s acceptable humour, but many Tajiks are taking offence. They say the show clearly identifies Ravshan and Jamshud as Tajik migrants and portrays them as bumbling idiots.
So Tajikistan has banned the sale of copies of the film Nasha Russia: Yaitsa Sudby and all 63 episodes of the show Nasha Russia.
But the ban hasn't stopped vendors from selling the popular videos.
“Of course, I have Nasha Russia: Yaitsa Sudby. Are you looking to buy?” asks Ulugbek, who runs a music and video store outside Dushanbe.
Ulugbek knows of the ban. He still sells under-the-counter copies of the film. Demand actually increased after newspapers published criticism of the film, he said.
Akhbar Sharipov, director of the licensing department of audiovisual products at the state-owned Tochikkino, said that a committee of experts on audiovisual productions recommended the ban. “It consists entirely of mockery of migrant workers”, he said in defence of the ban.
The “manufacturing and distribution of media productions and the showing of films and videos containing ... material aimed at inciting social, racial, ethnic or religious strife or exalting cruelty, violence and pornography are banned”, Tolib Kholov, director of the Tajik Committee for Television and Radio, said.
Tajiks are debating whether Nasha Russia incites strife.
Ivan Yartsev, a teacher at one of Moscow’s universities, said the show is not an affront to Tajik migrants. “After all, how many times have the management of the TNT television channel and the actors depicting the migrant workers Ravshan and Jamshud themselves stated that their characters are generalised?" he asked. "They could be other natives of Central Asia. Besides, the actors depicting Ravshan (Armenia's Mikhail Galustyan) and Jamshud (Moldova's Valery Magdyash) are themselves representatives of national minorities”.
Yartsev recognises, though, that TV programmes can influence public opinion: “More than once I have witnessed Muscovites turn to migrant workers who look like natives of Central Asia and call them ‘Ravshan’ or ‘Jamshud’. This leads to one conclusion: the image of these comedy leads has firmly lodged itself in the minds of many Russians”.
After watching the film, Tajik journalist Vera Kulakova wasn't buying the assurances of the filmmakers. She posted on her blog, “(Screenwriter) Garik Martirosyan’s arguments sound absolutely preposterous: ‘This is humour, after all. All the leads are generalised characters’”. But that ambiguity is said to be a recent change.
“Only now have Ravshan and Jamshud become generalised characters; before, it was plainly stated that they were migrant workers from Tajikistan”, said Tajik political analyst Parviz Mullojanov, who resents what he says is the film's insulting tone.
No fan of the film, he doubts the ban will accomplish much. “Anyone can watch the movie by downloading it from the internet”, Mullojanov stated.
The ban is part of a broader mission, Khikmatullo Saifullozoda, director of the Islamic Renaissance Party Analytical Department, said. “Protecting migrants’ rights is the primary responsibility of the authorities, but this needs to be done by protecting migrants’ honour as well", he said. "Our government simply lacked other means to influence the situation besides the ban”.
“After the criticism in the newspapers, I watched the film Yaitsa Sudby myself, but did not see anything so terrible ... except uninteresting, black humour”, said Dushanbe resident Malika Sabzaliyeva. She said some of the humour might be based on how some real migrants behave. She once saw one migrant worker on a Moscow-bound plane wipe his shoes on a headrest cover.
Karomat Sharipov, chairman of the Russian organisation Tajikskie Trudovye Migranty (TTM [Tajik Migrant Workers]), noted in an interview with Russian media that Nasha Russia “mocks the Tajik passport and intentionally shows the (passport's) national crest in doing so". Sharipov was referring to a scene where Ravshan and Jamshud buried their Tajik passports.
TTM complained in writing to the prosecutor-general of Russia and the board of directors at Comedy Club Productions, which produces Nasha Russia, he said.
Production of the fifth season of Nasha Russia will proceed, TNT's press service said. However, Ravshan and Jamshud, who were leads in Nasha Russia: Yaitsa Sudby, will no longer be in the show.