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010_08 / 22 February 2017

Süleyman Rüstem was a popular Azerbeijani poet, his poems are so pro-soviet that you can't discern whether it is irony, true love or a solid belief in ideology.


Here Zamir Sulemanov reads a poem about the first animal-cosmonaut Laika.


Laika is in the air

barking ham ham

it inspires me.




Zamir writes – Süleyman Rüstem and Politlirika (politpoetry)


How do you know who is a genuine pro-Soviet propagandist and who is forced to be one?


During the 1930s the Soviet government conducted a series of deportations. Millions of so-called enemies of the 'Union' were deported to Siberia. Poets and writers were no exception, and not only because of their anti-Soviet political activities.  To be named an enemy you only had to make a suggestion in your writing, one poet was that one of the poet have some crescent description in his poem, which is the symbolic image of Turkism.


Süleyman Rüstem (1906–1989) is the author of the poem


Oxuma Tar[1], Oxuma Tar, Seni sevmir proletar (Stop singing Tar, Stop singing Tar, Proletariat don't love you)


This poem was a response to Oxu tar, Seni kim unudar (Sing Tar, Who can forget you) by poet Mikhail Mushfig (1908–1938), who was also a victim of repression.


After the collapse of the Soviet Union, pro-soviet poets were no longer repressed or tormented by questions about their political lyrics.  These kind of questions are not confused anymore.  Following the end of Soviet ideology and the fight with Stalin's repression, Süleyman Rüstem, had always remained true to himself.


The only question he was worried about is: what will happen with pro-Soviet lyrics after the disappearance of the primary and direct subject of this poetry?


[1] Tar is an Azerbeijani string instrument that plays a significant role in shaping the cultural identity of Azerbaijanis.

About the author

Zamir Suleymanov

Zamir Suleymanov was born in 1987 in Baku, where he currently lives and works.  After studying Economics, he began his art career as a photographer.  Zamir works with photography, video and sound, and is interested in the border between reality and fiction.  His main object of research is the behavioural patterns of both minority and majority groups.