Zoologist Severtsev visiting Kokand

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First European scientist and traveler, who visited Turkestan, a holy city for Muslims of Central Asia, was a Russian Darwinist and humanist Nikolai Severtsev. However, he came here against his will.

April 26, 1858, naturalist and anatomist with a small escort of 3 Cossacks were hunting in Syrdarya reeds, where they faced with Kokand patrol. Anatomist was wounded, but managed to hide, the Cossacks did not show its vaunted qualities and set off at full speed. Severtsev stayed alone with the enemy. He was brave and met the enemy face to face, but at this point he was already slightly wounded by lance.

"I did not expect to survive, so I decided that they will not get me for nothing; I carefully aimed at the Kokand man, who wounded me, and pulled the trigger; his horse galloped away riderless, the rider was laying dead on the ground with a hole in his head."

A flash of hope for salvation grinned from ear to ear. But its mouth turned out to be toothless. Traveler’s horse stumbled over the rock. And at this point, he was overtook. The second bullet, instead of joining the path of the first one broke the gun. Pierced breast peak knocked rider out of the saddle...

"Kokand man hit me on the nose with his saber, but cut only the skin; the second blow to the temple, broke the zygomatic bone and knocked me down, then he tried to cut my head off, hit me a few more times, deeply slashed my neck, split the skull..."

After that, tired and calmed Kokand men decided that it is easier and better to take this tenacious of life Russian hostage instead of killing him. They put Severtsov on a horse, tied his feet to the stirrups and delivered straight to Turkestan.

Nikolai Alekseyevich spent a month in Turkestan. He was exhausted from the blood loss, his wounds began to fester and he was sure that his associates thought that he is dead and did not do anything to rescue him. And constant threats of the captors to impale the scientist if he do not "voluntarily" accept Islam, did not add an optimism. His condition was so bad that when he thought that gangrene started, he sighed with relief. But his nature did not allow resignedly wait for the end. And the researcher continued to observe and noticed a lot of things in his surrounding: 

"... The streets, of course, are not smooth, not paved, damaged by people, carriageways camels and horses, narrow...

... Green is not visible, no trees or grass are on the streets or in the yards; Kyrgyz cemetery with its diverse graves looks friendlier and more like a habitable place than this mess of alleys...

…Citadel is four-sided-and one of the sides leaning against the city wall. Datka, her officers and the garrison live in this citadel; a large mosque Azret Sultan is there as well."

Deliverance, meanwhile, was coming. Diazas, head of Syrdarya line, knew about the bad condition of the prisoner and took active measures to rescue him. When scientist learned about it, his mood changed cardinally. He started accepting treatment (he refused it at the beginning), enjoy life and look around: "I was so happy that I liked even Turkestan..."

Severtsev was released on May 20. Terrible wounds were on his face till the end of life...

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