Photo exhibition “The hidden Republic – Pictures from Kalmykia” was opened in Denmark. Kasper Boye told about Kalmykia.
Kalmykia is Europe’s only Buddhist nation. It is located on the North Caucasus – with almost equidistant to the Black Sea in the west, the Caspian Sea in the east, Volgograd (formerly Stalingrad) in the north and the conflict-ravaged Chechnya in the south.
Kalmykia is a republic in the Russian Federation. They have their own parliament, but the political leader appointed from Moscow.
Ethnic kalmyks up more than half of the population (the rest are Russians, kasakher, etc..). They are descendants of the Mongol tribe Oirat that early in the 1600s crossed the Urals to ravage and rule on the Caucasian plains. Tribe made a pact with Peter the Great, who offered them freedom – and guns – on the use of their Mongol steel and horses in the defense of southern borders of Russian Empire. Successive Tsars and later the 1917 revolution gradually deteriorating relationship between kalmykkerne and Mother Country.
In 1943 Kalmykia invaded by Germany. As a sequel, the total kalmyk nation declared guilty of treason by Stalin and exiled. Half the population died in the 13 years that went before kalmyks during Khrushchev was allowed to return to their homeland.
From the first free elections in 1993 and 2010 had Kalmykia the chess eccentric Kirsan Ilyumzhinov as president. He unfolded from 1993 to 2010 a nation branding strategy closely linked to a cult of personality, where Buddhism, chess and a colorful gallery of diplomatic relations together to restore the republic.
Steven Seagal was designated an honorary citizen. Chuck Norris was an investor in Chess City.
Saddam Hussein was a close friend and collaborator. The same was Gaddafi, who still adorns advertising billboards in the capital’s center. The most prominent visitors were Ilyumzhinov However, from the aliens that from 1997 onwards again and again took him to outer space.
While work has been ongoing to rediscover and cultivate a Buddhist culture that the Soviet was prohibited, economic development stood still. Today Kalmykia considered one of the most underdeveloped, most closed and most unhappy republics throughout the Russian empire.
Kasper Boye, Copenhagen, Denmark
(translation from danish to english language)