Moldobayev Kubat

The role of cultural activists in resolving conflicts in polyethnic societies.

The role of the creative elite increases during transition periods in the development of societies and at crucial points in the lives of different nations. Intellectuals frequently act as leaders, ideologists and organizers of ethnic mobilization. Cultural activists also play an important role in the peaceful resolution of various conflicts as they are usually respected by all parties concerned.
This project focuses on the positive role of cultural activists in resolving conflicts in polyethnic societies (based on the example provided by Kyrgyz-Uzbek inter-ethnic conflict and a conflict which took place in December, 1986 in Alma-Ata).
Several well-known cultural activists played an important role in resolving the Kyrgyz-Uzbek inter-ethnic conflict including Kyrgyz writer Chingiz Aitmatov and Uzbek writers Adil Yakubov and Pirimkul Kadirov.
A crucial role in adequately assessing the Kazah youth strike in Alma-Ata, December 1986, and subsequent rehabilitating victims who suffered during the repression of the strike, was played by well-known Kazah poet Muhktar Shakhanov.
Methods of research.
Analysis of empirical material (i.e. SMI publications) was accomplished during the completion of this project. In addition, expert assessment methods, media content-analysis, official documents of the State policing authorities and public organizations were utilized for the present research. Conclusions and summaries were made regarding a number of cases where local communities dealt with this type of conflicts successfully.
Oshsky inter-ethnic conflict.
1. General framework.
The inter-ethnic conflict provoked between the Kyrgyz and Uzbek peoples, one of the largest and most violent in the former Soviet Union territories, took place in the summer of 1990 in the Oshskaya region of Kazahstan. The conflict took place on the territory of the Republic of Kazahstan, in Oshskaya region, bordering Fergana Valley regions of Uzbekistan at its western border. Oshskaya region is characterised by the polyethnic content of its population. In 1990, the population totalling 1.3 million comprised 60% Kyrgyz 26%, 6.7% Russians. Further, these territories were inhabited by a vast number of different ethnic minorities (Tadjiks, Ukrainians, Azerbajani, Uigurs, etc.) The distribution of the major population groups reflects the prominent differences in the traditional orientation of economies of the Kyrgyz and the Uzbeks. While the first group inhabited mainly highland areas and mountains, the second one occupied plains. In the cities of the Oshskaya region, the concentration of Uzbeks as well as Russians is higher than that of Kyrgyz. In the city of Osha - the administrative centre of the region (population totals 211 thousand people) Uzbeks comprised 46%, Kyrgyz - 24, Russians - around 20%. (Perepis’ Naseleniya SSSR (Registration of the Population in USSR) - 1989, Moscow, 1990).
The Oshskaya region is characterised by an agricultural-industrial economy. The mining and processing industries were particularly well-developed. In the late eighties, almost all Kyrgyzstan's oil, gas and coal was mined here. It has also got a number of metal processing and construction industry enterprises. The cities are surrounded by fertile lands, on which cotton, rice, tobacco, wheat and various fruits are planted.
The motivation of this conflict was primarily based in the worsening of the social-economic position of different ethnic groups, unemployment and housing problems, as well as by ethno-territorial problems between Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan.
Oshskaya region had developed dangerous social-economic situation. According to a number of major social-economic indices the region was one of the most backward in Kyrgyzstan. Even though in the early eighties in Kyrgyzstan, according to estimations done by the Federation of Trade Unions, over than 3.5 million of people (80% of the whole population) had income lower or at the edge of poverty; Oshskaya region was far behind the average republican level based on major indices of population wealth. ("Sovietskaya Kyrgyziya", Bishkek, June, 19, 1991).
The prominent economic structure, underdevelopment of the social-cultural infrastructure and high birth rate led to the fact that Oshskaya region, according to official data, had 50 thousand unemployed by the initiation of the conflict. Three quarters of them were young people aged under 30 years. ("Sovietskaya Kyrgyziya", Bishkek, August, 15, 1990). This social group comprised the major de-stabilising force in the ethnic conflict. Analysis of the sociological research data testified to the fact that the largest amount of those who participated in strikes were young people.
The Oshskaya region in particular particularly and Fergana Valley in general, occupied one of the leading places in Kyrgyzstan, Middle Asia and the whole former Soviet Union according to the population density rates. Most of the population is concentrated in plain areas of Southern Kyrgyzstan adjacent to Fergana and suitable for agriculture and industrial production . Demographic prognoses testify to the fact that merely Oshskaya and Dzhala-Abadskaya regions of Kyrgyzstan can produce an increase of population up to three million within twenty years if the present rates of the population growth stll apply. This fact can worsen the current situation significantly.
A serious housing problem contributed to the factors provoking the Oshsky interethnic conflict. By the beginning of these events one of six families was waiting for housing, which totalled over than 14 thousand people, most of whom were young people of Kyrgyz nationality.
The Oshskaya region, when compared to other regions of the Republic, shows poor social-cultural development. A critical condition can be observed also in the health protection system, education, cultural-enlightenmental entities. For instance, only 16% of children could be covered by pre-school establishments in the rural areas of the Oshskaya region. Regarding the amount of libraries, cinemas, theatres, museums and the level of education and health protection, the Oshskaya region used to occupy the last place among the other regions of the republic. Seemingly, those facts provoked growth of tension and dissatisfaction among the population.
In a polyethnic state, which is represented by Kyrgyzstan in this case, social tension frequently develops into an inter-ethnic tension. Worsening of social-economic conditions of different social and ethnic groups is a crucial factor in de-stabilising interethnic relations. Thus, the largest and most tragic interethnic conflict in Oshskaya region in June, 1990, was backgrounded by unfavourable social-economic conditions.
Moreover, inter-ethnic relations were de-stabilised not merely by a worsening in the social-economic situation in the region, but also by the differing social status of its ethnic groups.
In industry, leading positions were occupied by Russians, in agriculture-Uzbeks. Kyrgyz
prevailed in stock raising.
According to the population registration data, Kyrgyz comprised 70% of the population involved in agriculture in the region only 15.4% of whom were inhabitants of the cities. The rural Kyrgyz population was less mobile as they were devoted to the agricultural way of life. For instance, knowledge gained in rural environment did not allow the Kyrgyz youth to compete with city citizens and, therefore, they could not adapt themselves to the conditions of city life. Along with that, lack of perspectives resulting from living in the countryside, surplus in the labour force in rural areas led in the late eighties to mass migration of Kyrgyz youth from villages to cities. In the Oshskaya region the main receiver of emigrants was the city of Osh, where unemployment and housing problems appeared to be the most critical ones. Lacking industrial skills and serious knowledge, many of young Kyrgyz rural inhabitants were bound to accomplish low-qualified types of work. Attempting in various ways to receive land plots for construction purposes, the Kyrgyz youth established an informal movement called "Osh aimagi" (translated from Kyrgyz it means "Osh population").
Uzbeks, who comprised 16% of the region's population, were mainly engaged in the service sector. Thus, among those involved in trade Uzbeks made 74.1%, in public catering - 74.7%. As for representation of ethnic groups in power structures of the region, it has to be admitted that among leaders of Regional executive committees, 85.7% were Kyrgyz, 4.7% - Uzbeks and 9.5% - Russians. Similar proportions, as long as the ethnic aspect is concerned, were typical for other management structures of the region (police and komsomol entities, trade unions, etc.).
A serious disproportion favouring Kyrgyz and characteristic of employment policy in managerial, police and power structures coupled with deficiency in satisfying national-cultural demands provoked an idea of creating Uzbek autonomy on the territory of Osh region among a group of Uzbeks, as well as justifying the need to remodel the border in favour of Uzbekistan. Those people acted also as ideological leaders of the informal union called "Adolat" (translated from Uzbek it means "Justice") which accumulated Uzbek people.
The backwardness of the social sphere and everyday life in rural areas, the absence of basic
living conditions, the extreme poverty among the majority of families, mainly with many children, provoked an idea of inferiority of Kyrgyz on their own land.
A seriously destructive role in inciting the inter-ethnic conflict was played by confronting
among unofficial organisations: Kyrgyz "Osh aimagi" and Uzbek "Adolat". Their claims and demands played on national feelings. What also warrants mention, is that the "Osh aimagi" movement put forward primarily social-economic issues, where the major issue was receiving land plots for Kyrgyzi young people. As for Uzbek "Adolat", their demands were primarily political, some with a clearly separatist character: the provision of autonomy to such Uzbek cities as Osh and
Uzgen, acquirement of the state statute by the Uzbek language and many others.
Beginning with May, 17, 1990, the city of Osh started to demonstrate a tense relationship between the citizens of Kyrgyz and Uzbek nationalities. One of the most explicit reasons for the breaking of this relationship were discussions over the assigning of land plots for individual construction. Self-founded society "Osh aimagi" put a number of demands before the local government. They demanded a donation 30 ha of irrigated lands belonging to the collective farm named after Lenin, Kara-Suisku region, adjacent to the city of Osh. By the means of strikes and related measures they forced the government of the region to endorse their decision. This fact procured negative response from the inhabitants of the collective farm, the majority of whom were Uzbeks.
This situation was exploited by representatives of the Uzbek informal society "Adolat", who managed to lead a major part of the population of Osh, who were mainly young people. Subsequently, the Uzbek support groups from bordering Namanganskaya, Andizhanskaya and Ferganskaya regions started to accumulate/amass/gather in the city of Osh.
The open conflict in a form of a bloody battle took place between the Uzbeks and Kyrgyz on the 4th of June, 1990, on the lands of the collective farm named after Lenin, where over 12 thousand people from both parties were gathered. From this place, mass disorders continued to spread away to the city of Osh. As they moved, Kyrgyz and Uzbek crowds destroyed and set fire to the houses and cars. On the 5th and 6th of June the conflict spread over the Uzgen and other regions.
The bloodiest battle occurred in the city of Uzgen, Oshskaya region. On the 5th of June in Uzgen at the local market and bus station, a number of fights took place between the Kyrgyz and Uzbek young people. Over 6 thousand Kyrgyzi who inhabited the city of Uzgen and comprised approximately 15 percent of the total amount of citizens, appeared to face an extremely complicated situation on the 5th of June. The arena of this interethnic conflict involved masses of people; the Uzgen tragedy rose several times above the Oshsky conflict in its scale and damage caused proving to be extremely violent.
To prevent further interethnic conflict local authorities withdrew Kyrgyz people who appeared to be at the locations of these battles the from the city of Uzgen. However, those displaced young people managed to accumulate thousands of Kyrgyzi from adjacent villages. The same day a huge crowd of Kyrgyzi armed with different weapons entered the city of Uzgen. The conflict then turned to its next phase: senseless and violent. Thousands of wild people (Kyrgyzi and Uzbeks) began to slaughter each other. Over 200 people, both Kyrgyzi and Uzbeks were killed. This bloody battle lasted till 3am, June, 6, until the Soviet Army troops entered the city.
Among the primary reasons which determined the location of the major centre for these tragic events in Uzgen one can find: the division of the population inhabiting the city into different property and material positions, particularly the appearance of the wealthy groups of people (among the Uzbeks mainly) who were viewed negatively by the poorer members of the Kyrgyz population who inhabited the villages adjacent to the city. Another reason is dissatisfaction among the Uzbek population caused by the fact that majority of those who occupied the leading positions were Kyrgyz people, thus the still existing outcomes of the former kinship and/or communal psychology also played certain part in the described conflict. Seemingly, serious social-economic problems of the Oshskaya region have also produced de-stabilising effect on the situation in the region.
The consequences of the conflict were dramatic. Antagonism between Kyrgyz and Uzbek peoples caused mass fights accompanied with murders, destruction, fires, etc. 318 people were assassinated, 31 were missing as a result of this inter-ethnic conflict, most of whom were Kyrgyz and Uzbeks. The struggle started to decrease only after the ‘special situation’ was announced and the troops entered the zone of conflict.
A study of the Oshsky interethnic conflict was accomplished by a number of specialists,
mainly sociologists and ethnographers. Nevertheless, there is no special research devoted to the peace-making role played by well-known cultural activists (Kyrgyz writer Chingiz Aitmatov and Uzbek writers Adil Yakubov and Pirimkul Kadirov) in resolution of the Oshsky interethnic conflict.

2. The peace-making role of writers in resolving of the Oshsky conflict

During the Oshsky inter-ethnic conflict in June 1990 well-known cultural activists - writers
Ch. Aitmatov, A. Yakubov and P. Kadirov- presented a peace-making initiative.
At the same time, Kyrgyz writer and public actor Chingiz Aitmatov was resident in Moscow. He was a member of the M. S. Gorbachev's President Council of the USSR. After the first Kyrgyz-Uzbek fights occurred in the city of Osh, a discussion between the USSR President and Chingiz Aitmatov took place, at which Mikhail Gorbachev supported the decision of Ch. Aitmatov to visit the region and to participate in the conflict resolution together with Uzbek writers A. Yakubov and P. Kadirov. To implement this mission M. Gorbachev provided the writers with a military air plain.
Ch. Aitmatov flew from Moscow to Tashkent where together with A. Yakubov and P. Kadirov he had a meeting with a president of Uzbekistan I. Karimov, as well as with leaders of the Uzbek opposition parties "Birlik" and "Erk". As a result of these meetings a firm agreement was reached: to preserve the borders between Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan as they were, to avoid any support of separatist actions in the zone of conflict, both at the official level and acting on behalf of either democratic movement.
Ch. Aitmatov, A. Yakubov, P. Kadirov flew to the city of Osh and made speeches live on
TV and over the radio, in which they appealed to the population to stop the violence.
They called the Osha citizens to cease violence, to begin thinking about the future as the conflict can spread over to the Uzbekistan territories, where a large Kyrgyz community has been living for long centuries. Representatives of the Uzbek and Kyrgyz communities were invited to the Osh TV studio. A serious conversation took place between them and the writers-parlamentaries, during this conversation the problems of interethnic relations which caused the conflict were discussed.
Ch. Aitmatov, A. Yakubov and P. Kadirov met in Osha with the leaders of “non-formal” movements - Kyrgyz "Osh aimagi" and Uzbek "Adolat"; at the meeting they persuaded opposed movements to start constructive talks with participation of the regional authorities.
At the same time, a number of student meetings took place in Tashkent and Bishkek, at which the Uzbek and Kyrgyz youth respectively demanded means of transportation from local authorities to departure immediately for Osh to protect their ethnic communities.
Thus, after the city of Osh the writers-parlamentaries started to execute the "shuttle"
Diplomacy - visited repeatedly Tashkent and Bishkek where, during the live TV and radio broadcasts, they adjured to Kyrgyz and Uzbek peoples to stop the violence. They appealed to common for the Kyrgyzi and Uzbeks cultural-historical heritage, likeness of their cultures, belonging to one turkic-language community.
It is important to stress that one of the factors causing the conflict was separation of the historical consciousness of the Kyrgyzi and Uzbek. Ch. Aitmatov wrote later: "Nationalism was
coming from the innocent at the first sight sides exhibiting itself in jealous monopolisation, in ascribing of the names and deeds of past historical actors to their own cultures, with cutting off the others from belonging to common turkic spiritual basis."(A. Chingiz. Voronii Grai nad Opolznem. Oshskiye Razdum'ya, God Spustya (A Flock of Crows above the Prominence. The Osh Contemplations, a Year After). Izvestiya, July 31, 1991).
Study of the common turkic heritage during the Soviet period was prohibited and regarded each time as an act of panturkism. That is why it is so important to write down a linked history of nations inhabiting the Central Asia, as until now, as it was sharply mentioned by Aitmatov, each republic was restricted to its own ethnic version, being closed in it as if in a "shell".
Ch. Aitmatov, A. Yakubov, P. Kadirov were constantly present in the zone of conflict, met with conflicting sides, appealed to the Kyrgyzi and Uzbeks to start a dialog, to sit at the round table, to initiate talks between the Uzbekistani and Kyrgyzstan’s leaders.
An important role was played by Ch. Aitmatov, A. Yakubov and P. Kadirov in resolving of the Oshsky interethnic conflict as they have been possessing a significant respect among the peoples of Central Asia.

A conflict in Alma-Ata in December 1986.

1. General background.
At the beginning of perestroika in USSR a first conflict with ethnic background took place in 1986 in the city of Alma-Ata which was the capital of Kazahstan.
In December 1986 a group of Kazah young people organised a demonstration of protest against the appointment of G. Kolbin (Russian by nationality and the Moscow’s protégé) the First Secretary of the Communist Party of Kazahstan. (Note: during the time of existence of the former USSR the First Secretary of the Communist Party was the first leader of a republic).
This appointment was viewed as an abrupt dictate from Moscow regarding the questions and problems which concerned the most vital interests of the republican population. It is important to underline in this connection that only three persons out of twenty first leaders of the communist party in Kazahstan were Kazahs during the Soviet period. The majority of appointed by Moscow Kazahstan leaders were not anyhow connected to its people, culture, everyday life or traditions.
The Kazah youth demonstration was peaceful and had a clearly political character; participants demanded explanations regarding the changes (i.e. new positions and appointments) in the leadership of Kazahstan. The republican leaders, however, refused to participate in a dialogue on equal with the young people terms as well as did not listen to their opinion. Having assumed that political protest threatened their power, they authorised police to break up the demonstration. For that reason policemen used rubber sticks, entrenching tools and specially-trained dogs. A number of demonstration participants did not wish to obey police orders, thus engaging in verbal confrontation and physical fights.
The tragic consequences of these fights were in a number of killed, both among the demonstrantors and the police, big amount of injuries including the severe ones. Over 1700 people were seriously wounded. Approximately 8.5 thousand people were under arrest: some taken to the short-term, special or holding cells. (See “Vivodi i Predlozheniya Komissii Prezidiuma Verhovnogo Soveta Kazahskoi SSR po Okonchatel'noi Otsenke Obstoyatel'stv, Svyazannih s Sobitiyami v Alma-Ate 17-18 Dekabrya 1986 Goda” (Conclusions and Suggestions of the Supreme Court of the SSR of Kazahstan Regarding the Final Appraisal of the Situation Related to the Events in Alma-Ata in December, 17-18, 1986)).
The transformation of a peaceful demonstration of protest into mass disorders and street fights resulted from political impotence of the Kazahstan leaders, their unwillingness and incapability to find a peaceful resolution for the dramatic situation, their decision to employ military forces.
Later on the Kazah government applied a number of repressive measures against the demonstration participants. For a number times an abrupt negligence of law was acknowledged during an investigation regarding the cases of those demonstration participants who were under arrest. Each investigation took place in a very compressed period of time, without being paid due attention and with clearly convictive intentions.
The SU Communist Party Central Committee adopted a special decree regarding the December events in Alma-Ata. It incorporated an official appraisal of the demonstration where the latter was called a nationalistic act of extremist and anarchist elements. Moreover, the whole Kazah nation was accused of being nationalistic. Soviet mass media organised a propagandist campaign, where the participants of December demonstration were accused in exhibiting nationalistic intentions, ethnic extremism, etc.
The first democratic protest against the totalitaristic system in Alma-Ata was infidelly broken up by the military forces. Moreover, its participants were either prosecuted or pursued.
All together 99 people were under trial, 80 declared guilty (according to the Articles 60 and 65 of the Criminal Codex of Kazahstan - violation of racial and national equality, mass disorders). 83 among 99 taken under arrest were put in prison.

2. Approaches in successful cases.
Each attempt to provide an adequate explanation of the December events in Alma-Ata was immediately prosecuted. Thus, the following people were dismissed: deputy editor of a newspaper called “Ogni Alatau” S Skorohodov, a journalist V. Boreiko. Additionally, certain repressive measures were applied towards a director of the Kazah telegraphic agency, editors of the “Zhetisu” and “Kommunism Tugi” newspapers. (See Interv’yu s Sopredsedatelem Kazahstanskogo Obschestvennogo Komiteta po Pravam Cheloveka N. Fokinoi (An Interview with N. Fokina, a Co-chairman of the Kazahstan’s Public Committee on the Human Rights), “Ogni Alatau”, Alma-Ata, October, 4th, 1990).
The first person who openly declared a new investigation to be necessary and who decided upon the re-appraisal of the events in Alma-Ata, was the Kazah poet Mukhtar Shakhanov. He also initiated a creation of a Committee of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Kazahstan of the Soviet Union regarding the final appraisal of conditions linked to the events in the city of Alma-Ata in December 17-18, 1986, which he started to head in 1988.
The Committee researched around 2000 different documents, studied over 500 volumes of criminal and administrative cases, interviewed over 800 people. The Committee encountered a strong confrontation from the state power representatives. The Supreme Court and the Lawcourt of Kazahstan for a long time did not let the experts to see the criminal cases. Many of the important documents were intentionally destroyed.
A psychological pressure was permanently applied to the members of the Committee. The KGB employees were ceaselessly spying out Mukhtar Shakhanov, he was ceaselessly receiving anonymous letters and threatening telephone calls.
“Shakhanov! You are going too far. You shall not expect to receive any support from the higher level. Stop digging all this out once it is not too late, otherwise you and your helpers will be killed”, “M. Shakhanov! As soon as you vitalise the corpses you will die from another cause” (Letters put in the postbox of M. Shakhanov). (See “Chto zhe Proizoshlo v Dekabre 1986?” (What did actually happen in December, 1986?). Interview with Mukhtar Shakhanov. “Leninskaya Smena”, Alma-Ata, November, 2, 1990).
During the investigation process new facts regarding the death of participants and the violence they suffered were revealed. The Committee’s activity intervened with interests of a great number of top executives in Moscow and Alma-Ata. As it became clear, many of them as well as police authorities were closely linked to the engagement of the armed forces in breaking up the peaceful political demonstration of the Kazah youth. Authorities were also responsible for a campaign of repression against the demonstration participants. In particular, those were people like G. Kolbin – former First Chairman of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Kazahstan, M. Solomentsev – member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, V. Chebrikov – Chairman of the Committee of the State Security of the USSR, O. Miroshhin – former Second Secretary of the Communist Party Central Committee of Kazahstan, Z. Kamalidenov – former Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Kazahstan, V. Miroshnik – Chairman of the Committee of the State Security of Kazahstan, and many more other people.
In 1989 Mukhtar Shakhanov was elected as a Deputate of the Supreme Court of the USSR and during the first Congress of the People’s Deputates of USSR he made a speech, in which he raised a question regarding the necessity to rehabilitate participants of the demonstration and about the re-appraisal of the official attitude towards the events in Alma-Ata. During his speech other deputates tried to stop him, accused him in ethnic extremism and alike. His speech was supported only by a limited number of deputates, such as Andrei Sakharov, Boris El’tsin, Chingis Aitmatov and some others.
The fact of his speech itself taking place in Moscow and being broadcast by TV throughout the Russia, provided for the first time a chance to give openly an objective assessment of the events in Alma-Ata.
In November 1989, at the session of the Supreme Court of Kazakhstan Mukhtar Shakhanov reported on the results of the work the committee headed by him conducted. However, these results were not supported by the deputates of Kazakhstan, the majority of whom were the representatives of the Party nomenclature. Many of them reported back making a statement that Shakhanov’s Committee was attempting to justify extremists and nationalists. Finally, the Supreme Court of Kazahstan approved a decision on termination of the Committee activities.
After this session, in late 1989, M. Shakhanov created a Public Committee on the Human Rights. Shakhanov decided to act based on public opinion, thus to reveal the truth regarding the December events in Alma-Ata.
The Kazahstan’s government attempted to prevent Shakhanov from making speeches for mass media. Mukhtar Shakhanov started to make use of any possibility to announce his position regarding the events in Alma-Ata, gave interviews, provided publications for the newspapers. Once he managed to make a speech on the republican TV, live broadcast. This played an important role: people knew the truth. In 1990, under the public pressure the Committee was created once again.
Mukhtar Shakhanov and the Committee headed by him achieved cancellation of the decree taken in 1997 by the Soviet Union Communist Party Central Committee, regarding the events in Alma-Ata, in which the Kazahstan’s people were accuses in nationalism.
In September 1990, due to public support, the Supreme Court of Kazahstan issued a decree in which they approved the conclusions and proposals of the Committee regarding the final appraisal of the circumstances linked to the events in the city of Alma-Ata in December 1986 (See Appendix 2). The Committee’s report appeared in the republican press.
It is important to stress once again that mainly based on the active civil position, courage of the Kazah poet Mukhtar Shakhanov, the truth regarding the events in Alma-Ata, 1986 was revealed and became public. Therefore, the victims of the conflict who were repressed without due reason for that were finally set free.

In the present time the responsibility which is carried out by cultural activists, representatives of the cultural elite in the critical situations is indeed very high. Cultural activists utilising primarily various means of mass media are capable of preventing conflicts and as well as of de-stabilising the situation in society.
It is important, therefore, to join the forces of different intellectual elite of different nations to discuss serious questions and problems, to broaden the cultural links of the peoples, to propagate common cultural heritage of different ethnoses.
Ethnical, cultural differences as they are cannot be a source of a conflict situation or confrontation between nations. It is important to take every effort, to activate all reserves which may facilitate the development of the consensus-bases relations among different ethnic groups.
Cultural activists of the former Soviet Union possess really good possibilities for active participation in resolution of this important task.
A creativity of the progressive cultural elite (writers, artists) itself is aimed at bringing closer different population groups, it calls for peace, unity, creation.
Secondly, the history knows a lot of examples of peace-making activity of cultural activists helping to unsharp various social, ethnic, political contradictions, providing an important factor for the integrity of the society.
Thirdly, cultural activists in the post-soviet environment possess a high degree of respect among the population and, as social opinion polls indicate, they have it even higher than any public institutions.
The latest experience indicates that a peace-making potential of cultural activists is growing stronger. This fact could have been observed in the Oshskaya region of Kyrgyzstan in 1990, when a dramatic ethnic conflict occurred. Due to the big extent of peace-making activity of cultural activists it became possible to resolve the problem and to reach peace between the parties.
Presently, however, the potential of cultural elite in harmonising of interethnic and inter-religious relations, prevention of the armed conflicts is not used to its needed extent.
Seemingly, it is important to look for the actual mechanisms for prevention and resolution of interethnic controversies, organisation of co-operation of the peoples from different nations.
One of the links in such mechanism was, according to our opinion, organisation of the Assembly of Cultures of the Peoples of Central Asia, the initiative of which creation belongs to the famous cultural activists (Chingiz Aitmatov, Adil Yakubov, Mukhtar Shakhanov).
The major goals of the Assembly are: maintaining of good relations among the ethnic communities, development of cultural links, mutual understanding among the nations, promotion of the democratic ideas, tolerance, peace-making actions to prevent conflicts in Central Asia.
The Assembly organises meeting of the people with different world views to discuss the most important questions, problems of the interethnic and inter-religious dialogues, develop the programs of the joint charity, justice, ecological and peace-making acts.
Thus, in 1996, the Assembly of Cultures of the Peoples of Central Asia in co-operation with Central Asian Centre for Investigation of Conflicts (Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan) conducted “the round table” titled “The role of cultural activists in the resolution of conflicts and development of tolerance” in which the following representatives of the Assembly took part: writers Chingis Aitmatov, A. Yakubov, M Shakhanov. The “round table” materials were published in the magazine titled “Central Asia and the World Culture”, issued by the Central Asian Centre for Investigation of Conflicts (See Appendix 1).
Another important type of activity of the Assembly of Cultures of the Peoples of Central Asia was conducting of the regular meeting of the “Issik-Kul’ Forum” in summer, 1997 in Kyrgyzstan. The forum was titled “National and Global Aspects of the cultures in the XXI century”. Representatives of the world intellectual elite as well as the General Director of UNESKO F. Mayor, the president of Kyrgyzstan A. Akayev, the president of Turkey S. Demirel, former president of the Soviet Union M. Gorbachev took part in this forum (see materials from "Issik-Kulsky Forum 97" published in journal titled "Tsentral'naya Aziya i Kul'tura Mira" (Central Asia and the World Culture), Bishkek, N2-3, 1997, Website of the Journal
The leitmotif of the Issik-Kul forum was the search for a "golden middle" - an organic combination of a peculiar culture of each nation and the world communities of nations, combined with all positive knowledge accumulated by the contemporary technocratic civilization. In the modern world, as it was said at the forum, different cultural and ethnic traditions come across and participate in a dialogue with each other. Despite the difference in opinions and positions of the Forum participants a common understanding of the problem was revealed: it is not inevitable that the problems and worsening of the situation at the contact point of different nations and cultures would preserve; it is true that the societies possess logos and experience to juxtapose the positive values to all possible problems; in particular, the concept of the World Culture, promoted by UNESKO can be employed for that reason.
The world culture being itself a manyfold idea and incorporating values and principles of common for all humans values - stable peoples' development, democracy, human rights, tolerance, international law and collective security - possesses a large intergating potential for the societies. Being a universal concept, the world culture considers the multitude of ways for social-economic development, spesifics of different political regimes. It is aimed at the support of ethno-national traditions of the world, co-operation and friendly neighbouring of different peoples.
In Central Asia a special role will be attributed to the ideas and principles drawn from the World Culture concept, as the region is characterized by its polyethnic, polyconfessional, polycultural content of its population. The past history of the region testifies to the presence of traditions among the peoples of Central Asia which can make an everyday practice of communication based on the principles of the World Culture and tolerance come true.
Development of the World Culture, teaching people tolerance are the major factors for preservation of political, humanitarian stability in the countries of Central Asia as well as prevention and resolution of conflicts.

Based on analysis of positive experience cases accomplished for the present research, we have concluded that the following ideas are important for prevention and resolution of conflicts in polyethnic and polycultural societies:
Maximum utilization of the peace-making potential of cultural activists. Intellectuals being famous and possessing high degree of respect can use their word to assist in sucessful settlement of various conflicts: both in their prevention and in searching for the ways of peaceful resolution of forced ones.
Extensive propaganda in SMI regardind the positive experience demonstrated by cultural activists in resolution of various conflicts.
Development of the World Culture ideas, education in the sphere of tolerance.
Development and strengthening of the civic society (democratic institutions, public organisations, civic initiatives).
Development of cultural initiatives, cultural centres, propaganda of human values, public disapproval of ideas incorporating principles of the ethnic and religious exclusiveness.
Creation of international non-governmental organisations uniting cultural activists from different countries, and their active peace-making activity.

At the present time the Central Asian Center of investigation of conflicts is working at the book titled "Mission of Cultural Activists in Resolution of Conflicts and Development of Tolerance" in which the world experience of cultural activists in resolution of conflicts will be presented.

Substantiation of the originality of the present work.
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