Gulnaz Galimullina
The story of a man who shot events of the world significance, but remained anonymous
Mahmoud Mukhametzyanovich Rafikov was a secret cameraman. He signed a non-disclosure agreement for 40 years. Only in the 2000s Rafikov was declassified, but not his works. "Makh" filmed documentaries about the events of the world significance, but his name was not written in the credits. In catalogs he was listed under the code number.
As Mahmud said himself, "he dreamed of making musical films with beautiful women." He was born and brought up in Ufa. During the war he worked at an aviation plant, after the war he took courses at Moscow Aviation Institue. In Moscow, he happened to get in an extra for the film "A spring" by Grigory Alexandrov. Mahmoud finally decided to go to the movies.
Mahmoud got into the University of Cinematography only on the second time. He was assigned to Tsentrnauchfilm (Center Science Film) despite his reluctance. But during the interview he was shown Kogalym on a geographical map as a subtle hint where he could go in case of his refusal.
Mahmoud Mukhametzyanovich filmed the first nuclear tests and the first nuclear submarine. He was the best "operator in the air." He got a dose of radiation while shooting and miraculously survived. "I managed to lay the foundation," as Mahmud Rafikov jokes: at that time his wife was preagnant.
Sergey Korolev called Makhmud immediately after his rehabilitation. Rafikov was the only cameraman to be trusted in shooting Korolev's documentary. Rafikov became the only operator who shot the landing of the first cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin. Makh was tasked to film all changes in the state, all emotions, each movement of Yuri Alekseevich after the flight to the Space.
"Everybody tried to take an autograph from Gagarin. So did I. But I had only my passport with me", -Rafikov says. Gagarin did not know what was the name of the operator, so he signed: "for the operator". All his life Mahmoud Mukhametzyanovich kept the camera KONVAS with which he filmed the first cosmonaut.
A small videoessay "The Makh's Spring " created for the television of Bashkortostan (BST) was awarded a prize of The All-Russian competition "The Hero of Our Time". It gave a birth to a bigger and more meaningful documentary film The "Numbered' for Channel One.
It was the film "Numbered" that helped the first cosmonaut's niece Tamara Filatova to find the secret cameraman Rafikov and present the film in the city of Gagarin at the Yury Gagarin' s Memorial Museum.

The son Marat and the grandson Dmitry Rafikovs followed the Makh's footsteps.
From the archives of 2014. The photo "A Tape of Life" got in the TOP-100 of the International Competition "The Wealth of Generations".