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  • On July 4th, 1929, in the city of Zakatal, the so-called bandit leader Shuaya was killed and his followers arrested. Shuaya was not just some criminal, however, but indeed a “political” bandit. One local communist wrote that Shuaya had been the “chief of all sheiks, and only thanks to him was the band able to hold out for so long.” Shuaya had been able to operate from the high Caucasus Mountains and elude capture for many years, and this helped to glorify him amongst the local population, creating an “encirclement of a halo of invulnerability and elusiveness” which appealed to the “counter-revolutionary” segments of the population, especially “mullahs and important kulaks.” Because of this local support “the struggle with the bandit Shuaya was considerably harsh and was notable / in its political significance / from the usual struggle with the usual criminal bandits.”

    After his death Shuaya’s “troop” was arrested and brought to the Zakatal fortress, built by the Russians in 1830, and which had been used to lock up the Battleship Potemkin mutineers following the Revolution of 1905. A large crowd gathered outside the fortress not believing that Shuaya had been killed, “not only from the city” but from the outlying villages as well. This crowd broke through the guard and gathered in the internal yard of the fortress, shouting and demanding “to see indeed whether Shuaya had been killed.” Soon the Informpunkt head Petrosyan and the local Agitprop head Samedov arrived at the scene and struck a bargain. The troop would be taken to the main square and Shuaya’s body would be put on display, so that all may see that he was truly dead. So for twelve hours on July 5th, Shuaya was hung from the neck, “hands prostrate”, in the Zakatal city square. Local workers were brought to view the body, so that the “wide population” would know “that the authority of Shuaya in considerable extent … was a religious fraud”, and so they may see “the appropriate anti-religious propaganda.” Next to the body an actor was brought in, and dressed as a mullah. He performed for four hours, poking the body with a cane and loudly stating that “if he’s not dead, and only asleep, then if called by the mullahs he [should be] able to wake-up.” A report to the TsK AKPb stated that “this occurrence produced a strong impression” in the peasant population. “They said that before Soviet power they didn’t expect such behavior from representatives of power.” Now, of course, the end of Shuaya had “raised the prestige of [Soviet] power” in the eyes of the local population.”

    Sources -
    ARSPIHIMDA 1-77-91-50.
    ARSPIHIMDA 1-74-291-228.
    ARSPIHIMDA 1-77-91-76.
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