Oily Majils is to Uzbekistan as the House of Representatives is to the United States. Founded during the transition between the Supreme Soviet of the Uzbek SSR and the Parliament of an independent Uzbekistan, the Supreme Assembly was responsible for adopting the Constitution of the Republic of Uzbekistan as the basis for what has evolved into today’s modern Presidential Constitutional Republic.
During the period immediately following Uzbek independence from 1991 to 1994, the interim government entered into a transition period and adopted a constitution calling for the creation of new bodies for administration of the state. Following the breakup of the Soviet Union, the transitional government was faced with the monumental task of creating an equitable democratic society with a socially-oriented market economy where before 1991, the Communist Party of the Soviet Union exercised complete control over all aspects of life in the Uzbek Soviet Socialist Republic.
The sixteenth session of the Supreme Assembly of a newly independent Uzbekistan was held on September 23, 1994 where a resolution was signed to hold the country’s first elections to the new legislative body “Oliy Majlis of the Republic of Uzbekistan” which took place on the 25th of December that same year. The Oliy Maglis was unicameral until constitutional reforms resulted in a transition to a bicameral parliamentary system which split the legislative body by creating a second higher legislative chamber, “The Senate of the Oliy Majlis,” in 2005. The lower legislative chamber remained in place and became known simply as the “Legislature of the Oliy Majlis.”
With the creation of the Oliy Majlis, it quickly became necessary to build the legislative body a new permanent home. Uzbek architect Valerij Akopjanyan was chosen for the project who is also known for at least 90 projects and 25 published works. A graduate of the Samarkand Institute of Architecture, he remained in academia, and in in 1976 engaged in postgraduate work at the Soviet Institute of Architectural Residential Building in Moscow. Following Uzbek independence, he was called upon to design several prominent projects for the new nation including the International Exhibition Hall, the Amir Timur Museum on Timur Square, the Navoi Monument in the Alisher Navoi National Park, and completion of the Soviet era Turkiston Palace.
The new seat of the country’s legislature was built based on a simple, rectangular floor plan, in the classicist style, but incorporated elements of Uzbek architectural tradition, including a typical blue Timurid style dome, with white decorative columns supporting an overhanging decorative portico along the full exterior of the building. The traditional architectural elements are contrasted by a mirrored facade of gold-tinted glass which reflects the surrounding landscape of the Alisher Navoi National Park, only hinting at the no-expense-spared interior that remains strictly off limits. The lavish decor features gold columns, Bukharan and Ukrainian granite, marble from Samarkand, and a massive 4,000 kg chandelier 10 meters high and 7.5 meters wide made of 600 separate elements of crystal and gold. Members of the legislature gather in the 34 m diameter circular main hall which features three levels. One which accommodates up to 350 people including members of the parliament and their guests, the second for press, and the third for technical support staff.
Visitors hoping to get a glimpse inside this lavish home of the Uzbek legislature need not get their hopes up. Admittance is strictly off limits to foreigners, so the view must be appreciated from afar. Located within Tashkent’s answer to Central Park, the Alisher Navoi National Park offers a serene setting to appreciate the palatial edifice from a distance. The best views are accessed from the Milliy Bog station of the Tashkent metro, where tourists can meander around the park’s artificial lake to the Alisher Navoi Memorial, Abul Qosim Madrassah, and Istiqlol Palace. As an alternative to the in-person experience, both visitors and ordinary locals alike can appreciate this monument to Uzbek democracy every time they handle a 5,000 сўм banknote.