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Two New Books From RFE/RL Journalists

Mircea Carp, former director of RFE/RL & VOA Romanian desks
Mircea Carp, former director of RFE/RL & VOA Romanian desks
Two Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty journalists, Mircea Carp and Amirbek Usmanov, have recently published books. Carp’s autobiography, “This Is Mircea Carp. Let’s Hear Some Good News Too,” focuses on his life and career as a journalist, while Usmanov’s “Kyrgyzstan’s History Through the Eyes of Witnesses” delves into the history of Kyrgyz families displaced by Stalin in the 1930s.

“This is Mircea Carp. Let’s hear some good news too!” was Carp’s iconic sign-off that ended each of his broadcasts and interviews during his time at Voice of America (VOA) and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), a period of Carp’s life that is treated in great detail in his memoir.

In an interview with Radio Europa Libera, RFE/RL’s Moldovan Service, Carp fondly remembers the fortuitous circumstances behind his first live broadcast.

“A lead broadcaster for VOA suddenly became ill, meaning there was no one to go live on the air,” Carp recalls. “I received a call from the program director, asking me if I dared to come on and read the news live for the first time.” Carp was greatly successful in this early attempt, and quickly became a regular voice at VOA.

After serving in the Romanian military in World War II, Carp was arrested in his homeland in 1947 for activities against the ruling Communist regime. After he was released from prison, he left Romania and crossed Soviet-controlled territory in Hungary and Austria before reaching American-controlled Salzburg, where accepted an offer from U.S. authorities and ultimately emigrated to the U.S. As Carp told Radio Europa Libera, “My mind was set on going... I managed to escape into the mountains, and then decided to join my fellow Romanians in exile in the West.”

Carp, who started at Voice of America in 1951 before moving to Radio Free Europe in the mid-1950s, is one of the most respected journalists to work in the region. To many Romanians, his voice was the one most associated with both Voice of America and Radio Free Europe broadcasts during the Communist regime. Over his long career, Carp covered many events of historical significance, from the 1977 Vrancea earthquake to the Romanian Revolution in 1989.

Kyrgyz Families in Exile

In addition to Mircea Carp, Amirbek Usmanov has also recently published, “Kyrgyzstan’s History Through the Eyes of Witnesses.” Written along with Czech historian Petr Kokaisl, Usmanov focuses on Kyrgyz families living in exile in Ukraine after being forced to move by Stalin in the 1930s.

Usmanov’s work drew inspiration from his radio program, “Victims of Repression” and provides an in-depth look at the uniquestories of these families.Over the past several
Kyrgyzstan’s History Through the Eyes of Witnesses. (Petr Kokaisl, Amirbek Usmanov)
Kyrgyzstan’s History Through the Eyes of Witnesses. (Petr Kokaisl, Amirbek Usmanov)
RFE/RL’s Kyrgyz Service, has written and produced more than 30 programs devoted to the Kyrgyz victims of Stalin’s regime. Examples include pieces such as Repression of Ukrainian Victims and Victims of Stalin’s Repression.

Stalin’s autocratic design of the region’s borders has led to ethnic violence and instability between and within minority groups that continues to this day. The nomadic Kyrgyz populations have often been passed over and shifted around, leading to hundreds of Kyrgyz families being settled, for example, in southern Ukraine around the city of Kherson.

Extensive research was required of Usmanov to make this book possible. In tandem with local historians and sociologists, Usmanov performed on-site research in the Kherson region of southern Ukraine while also searching various Ukrainian archives. The team traveled to villages where hundreds of Kyrgyz families had been forced into exile and interviewed those with firsthand knowledge of this important and rarely explored facet of history.

Usmanov’s book features a series of witness accounts, interviews, and important documents and photos that build to tell the story of the repressed Kyrgyz people in the region. The book is being published in both Czech and Russian.

-- John McGregor