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Oleg Dzhambinov, About My Family

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Terbish, Baasanjav 


Oleg reminisces about his parents and siblings. This is his story: My father Dzhambinov Yaroslav Saykovich lived a good life. Like all in his generation, he endured many hardships, but always remained an honest and decent person. He was born in Abganer-Gakhankin district of the Western Ulus of the Kalmyk Autonomous Region on 3 March 1922. Today this village is called Esto-Altai and is in Yashalta rayon of Kalmykia. My father was orphaned when he was 14 or 15. After finishing the Astrakhan Pedagogical College in 1940, he worked as a teacher in Ulan-Kholskiy rayon, which is today Laganskiy rayon of Kalmykia, until December 1941. Then he was drafted into the army, fought in the 110th Kalmyk Cavalry Division and from 1942 served in the 248th Infantry Division of the 28th Army, which supported the Red Army’s liberation of Elista from the German invaders. Afterwards, they also went on to liberate Stavropol and Rostov regions and Zaporozhye. Like many soldiers of Kalmyk nationality, in January 1944, my father was exiled to Shiroklag (a work camp in Perm region where the Soviet government was building a hydroelectric station). After release in 1945, he worked as a teacher in the Manskaya Primary School of the Krasnoyarsk Territory, where I was born. In July 1957, after the famous decree of Khrushchev (denouncing Stalin), we returned home to Kalmykia. In Kalmykia, my father worked for a short time as a teacher at the Leninskiy state farm in Tselinniy district, which is today the village of Iki-Chonos. Afterwards, he was transferred to work as the chief editor of the ‘Lenin’s Path’ newspaper in Tselinniy rayon. I remember that in 1960 he was sent to study at the Higher Party School in Leningrad. After graduating from the HPS in 1964, he was transferred to work in the Kalmyk Oblast CPSU. We moved to Elista. From 1967 to 1983 my father worked as the chief editor of the newspaper ‘Khalmg Unn’ (Kalmyk Truth). My father knew the Kalmyk language very well. He was friends with the writer David Kugultinov since childhood. In fact they were neighbors and grew up together. David’s mother even breastfed my father, because there was only a 10 day difference between David and my father. Both boys remained friends for life. My father was a party member. He was editor of newspapers, a deputy of the Supreme Council of Kalmykia, and later its chairman. Despite his high titles and positions, he always remained a modest person. He never talked about the war at home, about his time in the work camp, or exile. My elder sister, Lena, graduated from the Institute of Literature in Moscow, lived for a long time in East Germany where she translated Kalmyk fairy tales into German and promoted Kalmyk culture. In 1999, she died. I went to her funeral in Germany. Lena socialized with a small Kalmyk diaspora there, and did a great job as a researcher. Our mother Ekaterina Angayevna worked all her life at school where she taught a subject called ‘housekeeping’. My mother sewed a lot. She did it in Siberia in exchange for food. My brother, who is retired from the Ministry of Internal Affairs, looks after his grandchildren. I am also retired. I have 2 sons in Moscow, my daughter works as a doctor. We have 2 grandsons. My wife Tatyana Nikolayevna is the director of the Pedagogical College in Elista. I am very proud of my father. The historian Vladimir Badakhaevich Ubushaev came to my father’s funeral in January 1995 and said that my father remained an honest person even in the harshest of times. We often had guests at home, including David Nikitich Kugultinov and his wife, Naran Ulanovich Ilishkin who worked as the chief literary censor, Utash Ulazganovich Ochirov, Tavshka Shashtayevich Samokhin who was the prosecutor of Kalmykia, Ochir Badmaevich Buluktaev who was a military pilot, and others. My father published a book titled ‘A Blessing Without Good’.  Over 16-17 years of work in the newspaper Khalmg Unn, he educated a whole generation of Kalmyk journalists, to whom he gave his help, advice, support, and hospitality.



Autobiography, family

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Kalmyk Cultural Heritage Documentation Project, University of Cambridge

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Sponsored by Arcadia Fund, a charitable fund of Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin