Last Updated: Monday, 30 May 2016, 14:07 GMT

Chronology for Russians in Uzbekistan

Publisher Minorities at Risk Project
Publication Date 2004
Cite as Minorities at Risk Project, Chronology for Russians in Uzbekistan, 2004, available at: [accessed 30 May 2016]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.
Date(s) Item
Oct 1989 The Uzbek Supreme Soviet declared Uzbek as the state language of the republic.
Mar 1990 The new Supreme Soviet elected Islam Karimov, the First Secretary of the Communist Party of Uzbekistan (CPU), to the newly-created post of executive President.
Jul 1990 In an interview, Boris Ogorodnikov, long-time announcer of Moscow Radio, pointed out a salient difference between the inter-ethnic hostilities of the US and those of Uzbekistan and other regions in the USSR. "For Uzbeks, the misunderstandings with other ethnic groups are compounded by the conviction that this is historically their land - their nation - and that the others are outsiders..." (The San Francisco Chronicle, 07/24/90).
Aug 1990 After the coup attempt failed in Moscow, an extraordinary session of the Supreme Soviet voted to declare the republic independent and changed its name to the Republic of Uzbekistan.
Nov 1990 The CPU was restructured as the People's Democratic Party of Uzbekistan (PDPU), with Karimov remaining as its leader. Since the beginning of ethnic riots between the Uzbeks and Kyrgyz in the Fargana Valley in June 1989, more than 170,000 people have been forced to leave Uzbekistan. Tashkent Week is teeming with advertisements like "I will exchange my apartment in Uzbekistan for one in any city in Russia." ... Although unemployment is rising steadily among the republic's indigenous population, a shortage of manpower at industrial enterprises is being felt more and more keenly... Groups in which Russian is the language of instruction are shutting down at institutions of higher education... (The Current Digest of the Soviet Press, 11/21/90).
Apr 1992 Knowledge of the Uzbek language, a form of Turkish, has been made a condition for holding a government post. Those who cannot speak it are being dismissed. (The Economist, 04/18/92).
Jun 1992 A treaty on the fundamental principles of interstate relations, on friendship and cooperation between the Russian Federation and the Republic of Uzbekistan has been signed in the Kremlin in early June. In his first interview to Pravda after the signing of the treaty, Islam Karimov, President of Uzbekistan has said, "According to the treaty both of the states guarantee the people living on their territories, regardless of their nationality, sex, language, religion, political and other convictions, all the political, social, economic and cultural rights and freedoms in accordance with the generally accepted norms of international law. Uzbekistan and Russia will for these purposes take legislative, administrative and other necessary measures to prevent any discrimination of people on their territories. There will be separate agreements on legal remedies in a civil, family and criminal lawsuits, a consular agreement and other documents aimed at protection of the rights of the citizens living on the territory of the other party to the agreement." (Official Kremlin Int'l News Broadcast, 06/02/92).
Aug 1992 Since 1985, 800,000 people, mostly Russians, have left Uzbekistan. In its capital, Tashkent, the historic centre of Russian rule in Central Asia, the Uzbek population has risen from 40% in the late 1980s to 60% in 1992. Russians in Uzbekistan call the Uzbek language law "the law on emigration." (The Economist, 08/08/92). Uzbekistan's citizenship law requires an oath "to respect the customs and traditions of the Uzbek people." According to the 1989 census, out of 1,653,000 Russians in Uzbekistan, 701,000 lived in Tashkent. (Moscow News, 10/07/92).
Dec 1992 Uzbekistan's new constitution adopted on 8 December 1992 firmly enshrined the concept of state secularism. It also guaranteed a democratic multi-party system, freedom of expression and the observance of human rights.
Feb 1993 Russian Defense Minister Andrei Grachev met with his Uzbek counterpart Rustam Akhmedov in Tashkent to discuss military cooperation. The parties reached agreement on military and technical cooperation and joint use of strategic facilities in the interest of the CIS members situated in Uzbekistan. Grachev and Akhmedov also discussed military service for Russians in Uzbekistan and Uzbeks in Russia.
Apr 1993 Russians in Uzbekistan may face problems in the future, although they were in privileged positions for decades. Last February, Tashkent decided to place Russian military officers in the country under its jurisdiction. A new citizenship law will consider as "foreigners" those who do not adopt Uzbek nationality by July 01. They will then be refused access to health care and education. (Arab Press Service Organization, 04/19/93).
Nov 1993 A poll of Russians living in Uzbekistan has revealed that "the absolute majority" believe that there would be a new wave of Russian emigration from the republic if it left the rouble zone and brought in its own currency," Russia TV reported. The TV said 500 Russians had taken part in the poll in Tashkent. Over 80% of those interviewed said they thought the introduction of a new currency would result in a deterioration of the economic situation. People had also accused Russia of leaving Russians in Uzbekistan "to the mercy of fate" by imposing unworkable conditions for the republic to join the rouble zone. However, almost half of those interviewed said they thought Uzbekistan would play what they referred to as the Russian card, in order to get concessions from Russia and to keep using the rouble. (BBC, 11/06/93). "There are no grounds to allege that Russians in Uzbekistan have been put under unbearable conditions and that the mass exodus of Russians from Uzbekistan is taking place," said Uzbek President Karimov at the talk with Russian Foreign Minister who was visiting Central Asia. Kozyrev said about 700 people apply to the Russian embassy daily asking to protect their interests and receive Russian citizenship. (Tass, 11/16/93). Russian Foreign Minister A. Kozyrev has proposed that a "semi-governmental" agency be set up to defend the rights of Russians living in the CIS. The agency would enjoy "considerable state support", but would remain independent from the Russian government because it would address "subtle problems that the government is not always capable of solving correctly," the Minister said following a tour of Central Asia. "There is no policy aimed at driving out Russians from Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan or Tajikistan," Kozyrev said, adding that some Russians were denied promotions in enterprises because of their nationality. (AFP, 11/18/93).
Jan 1994 Russian and Uzbek delegations held a working meeting at the Russian Foreign Ministry to discuss bilateral relations, the situation of ethnic Russians in Uzbekistan, and other regional problems. At the talks a decision was reached to establish a mixed group of Russian and Uzbek experts to draft legislative proposals on citizenship. (Tass, 01/21/94).
Feb 1994 Nezavisimaya Gazeta (02/110/94) quoted Uzbek President Karimov as saying the idea of dual citizenship is unacceptable to Uzbekistan. He feels those who want to take Russian citizenship must give up Uzbekistan citizenship, and accordingly, the rights and liberties that go with it. The paper added that over 9,000 persons had been granted Russian citizenship since November 1992 when the Russian embassy opened in Tashkent. However, the exact number of repatriates is unknown because people leave Uzbekistan without any official permission.
Mar 1994 Russian Orthodox and Jewish graves were desecrated on two occasions at a cemetery near Tashkent.
May 1994 At present, Russians in Uzbekistan number more than 1,500 thousand people. The Uzbek Ambassador to Moscow H.E. Yusuf Abdulayev assured in an interview that any discriminatory infringement on the rights of Russians in Uzbekistan is out of the question. Russians work along with indigenous citizens in the Uzbek parliament, government, local administrations and managements of big enterprises. (Tass, 05/30/94).
Jul 1994 Increasing numbers of ethnic Russians in Uzbekistan are seeking Russian citizenship. According to the Russian Consulate in Tashkent, 20,000 people have applied for Russian citizenship over the last 18 months, and last month alone there were 9,000 applications, the Russian TV reported. (BBC, 07/14/94).
Aug 1994 If knowledge of the local language of a republic on the part of an ethnic minority that resides there indicates cultural assimilation, one recent report shows that Russians living in Central Asia have integrated themselves the least into those cultures. For example, in Uzbekistan, only 5% of Russians know Uzbek as a second language. Also, because of the divergent occupations pursued by Russians and the indigenous populations, there has not been much interaction between these groups in daily life. (Klatt, 1994).
Aug 20, 1994 It was announced that as of September broadcasts of the Russian language television channel in Uzbekistan will be stopped. This decision was justified by the fact that Russia had stopped financing the station.
Sep 24, 1994 Human rights groups reported a government crackdown against political opposition including organizations representing minority groups like Russians.
Oct 22, 1994 The Soviet Press Digest reported that "the economic crisis, the official order compelling everybody to speak the Uzbek language, grass roots nationalism and encroachment on the rights of the Russian speaking population are compelling more and more people to leave Uzbekistan." In the past 2 years 62,000 Russians left according to official figures which do not include the many Russian who left without the assistance of the Russian government. Many of those who have left are soldiers which has resulted in a weakening if the Uzbek armed forces.
Dec 22, 1994 Reuters reported that Uzbek opposition candidate Rustom Usmanov has been barred from taking part in upcoming elections after calling for Russians in Uzbekistan to be allowed to take dual citizenship.
Feb 1, 1995 The BBC reported that more than 110,000 Russian speaking people from Uzbekistan have received Russian citizenship in 1994. In 1993, only 10,847 Russian speaking Uzbeks had received Russian citizenship.
May 13, 1995 A new law prepared by the Uzbek ruling party, the People's Democratic Party of Uzbekistan, forbids the establishment of parties along ethnic or religious lines. (Source BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, 5/13/95)
May 23, 1996 Over 2.7 million people have migrated into Russia from other former Soviet republics in the past three years, more than a million of them being refugees and displaced persons. Ethnic Russians made up an overwhelming majority of the migrants. Over 70 percent of them arrive from Central Asian states, mostly Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. (Source BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, 5/26/96)
Aug 7, 1996 Studies of the migrational behavior of the noneponymous population of the new central Asian countries, which were formerly part of the Soviet Union were conducted in 1994-1995 by the MacArthur Foundation and the Russian Federation Federal Migration Service. These studies reveal that there is evidently a growing trend toward migration in Uzbekistan. Seventy-five percent of the people polled there want to leave, in comparison with 59% in 1992. In Kazakhstan, 66% wanted to leave and in Kyrgyzstan -- 62%. Potential migrants in Uzbekistan are twice as likely as people in the other two countries to know when they'll be able to move and twice as often responded that they'll be leaving in the next five years. And people in Uzbekistan are five times more likely to be leaving in the next year than those in Kazakhstan and seven times more likely than those in Kyrgyzstan. Nine percent want to leave Uzbekistan under any conditions, regardless of whether or not they have housing or employment, whereas the corresponding figure in Kazakhstan is only 4% and in Kyrgyzstan it is 1%. As a result, one can predict that in the next five years, Russia can expect that 39% of Uzbekistan's noneponymous population, 16% of Kazakhstan's and 12% of Kyrgyzstan's will move there to take up permanent residence. This will be approximately 4 million people. Among them, the percentage of Russians will be anywhere from 75% in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan to 85% in Kyrgyzstan. (Source The Current Digest of The Post-Soviet Press, 8/7/96)
Nov 9, 1996 The head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Aleksey II arrived on a five-day visit to Uzbekistan to take part in events marking the 125th anniversary of the establishment of the Tashkent and Central Asian branches of the Russian Orthodox Church in Uzbekistan. (Source BBC, 11/14/96)
Dec 22, 1997 Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, on a two-day working visit to Uzbekistan, said no problems with the observation of Russian-speakers' rights exist in Uzbekistan. Chernomyrdin stressed,"Uzbekistan does not infringe on the rights of ethnic Russians like it is done in the Baltic republics provoking the concern of the world community." President Islam Karimov of Uzbekistan said, AI do not consider ethnic Russians in Uzbekistan a national minority...Uzbekistan's Constitution and laws create equal conditions for all residents of the republic. "
Apr 3, 1998 An Uzbekistan-Russia Friendship Society has been established. Among its members are about 100 prominent cultural figures, art people, men of letters, scientists, ministerial executives, directors of major enterprises, and members of parliament. Tokhtomurat Djurayev, the newly elected Chairman of the Society, pointed out that the new Society would in every way promote wider contacts between the two countries so that ethnic Russians (of whom there more than a million in the republic) could feel comfortable in Uzbekistan. (Source ITAR-TASS News Agency, 4/3/98)
Feb 3, 1999 Uzbek foreign ministry officials announced that Uzbekistan will not continue its membership in the security set-up of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), when its treaty of allegiance to the group of 12 former Soviet Satellites expires in April. Foreign ministry official Bakhodyr Umarov said that while Uzbekistan did not want to upset Russia, the CIS security alliance simply was not working. "The reasons for making this decision were the changes in the military-political situation in the world, and also the inactivity of the treaty, which didn't fulfil its functions," he said. In May 1994, Uzbekistan and Russia signed a bilateral treaty pledging to cooperate on military matters, but Umarov said he was not certain whether that treaty would also remain in force. Russia and Uzbekistan have maintained close military ties since, cooperating in a border guard force in troubled Tajikistan, and forging a united stance to prevent the Afghan conflict from spilling across the border into Uzbek territory. Uzbek President Islam Karimov has admitted that the war is a threat to regional stability, but defense ministry officials insist that Uzbekistan can handle its own defense without Russian support. (Source BBC, 2/3/99)
Sep 22, 1999 The Uzbek embassy in the Russian Federation has denied the recent allegations which have surfaced in the Russian media that it forcibly recruits ethnic Russians to conduct combat operations in Uzbekistan's border regions. The Uzbek embassy claims the ethnic composition of the armed forces as a whole reflects the multi-ethnic composition of the country's population. (Source BBC Worldwide Monitoring, 9/22/99)
Dec 11, 1999 Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin praised the Uzbek leadership for maintaining "the calm and stable" ethnic situation in the country. Speaking at a meeting with members of the Russian community in Uzbekistan, Putin said the Uzbek leadership "is doing everything necessary to ensure that the vector of inter- ethnic relations goes in the right direction". While Putin was in Uzbekistan, he and Uzbek President Islam Karimov signed an accord on Russia-Uzbekistan military technical cooperation. (Source ITAR-TASS News Agency, 12/11/99)

Search Refworld