This sculpture with the austere expression was dedicated on July 2, 1992. This abstract sculpture was given to Spokane by our former sister city Makhachkala. The sculpture represents Shamil, an anti-Russian resistance hero during the Caucasian War, a 19th-century politician and a revered religious leader. Shamil was not the most successful military leader, but his convictions to reinstitute Muslim Law exalted him to an Imam- a sacred religious leader. The creation of the sculpture in 1992 celebrated the independence of Dagestan from the collapsed Soviet Union. Makhachkala is the capital city of the Dagestan Republic.
Spokane and Makhachkala swapped sculptures the summer of 1992. A totem pole, created by the great Northwest artist Harold Balazs, was gifted to Makhachkala. In return, Anatoli Abgudaev created this portrayal of Shamil for Spokane. This hammered copper sculpture of Shamil exemplified the ideas of peace over war, and the importance of freedom world wide.
The sister-city arrangement between Spokane and Makhachkala was only momentary. Like most of her neighbors, instability gripped the Dagestan Republic and Spokane lost most, if not all, communication with their sister city. The relationship abruptly ended between the sister cities in 1994 when Spokaneites traveled to Makhachkala and were fired upon. Currently Spokane has four sister relationships: Nishinomiya, Japan (established in 1961), Jilin City, China (1987), Limerick, Ireland (1990), and Jecheon, Korea (1999). Listen to the podcast on this page for more information about the sister cities program.