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Uzbekistan: Treatment of Tartars [Tatars] and the state protection available to them since 1990

Publisher Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada
Author Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board, Canada
Publication Date 19 September 2002
Citation / Document Symbol UZB39424.E
Reference 4
Cite as Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Uzbekistan: Treatment of Tartars [Tatars] and the state protection available to them since 1990, 19 September 2002, UZB39424.E, available at: [accessed 28 November 2015]
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.

No information on the specific treatment of Tartars [Tatars], or the state protection available to them, could be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate. Information on the Tartars in Uzbekistan pertained to the years prior to Uzbekistan's independence in 1991 or referred to the attempts and efforts of Crimean Tartars in Uzbekistan to return to their homeland in Crimea, Ukraine.

On 18 May 1944, under Josef Stalin's orders, the entire Crimean Tartar population of approximately 200,000 people was deported in cattle cars from Crimea to Central Asia, primarily Uzbekistan, because of the Tartars' collaboration with the Nazis during World War II (RFE/RL 14 June 2002; COE 18 Feb. 2000, sec. III.1.1; Impact International Jan. 1999; JMMA Oct. 1997, 235-36). A 1967 Soviet decree cleared the Tartars of all charges of collaboration (JMMA Oct. 1997, 239; RFE/RL 14 June 2002; COE 18 Feb. 2000, sec. III.1.1), but they were not permitted to return to their Crimean homeland until after the fall of the Soviet Union (ibid.).

A 1990 report by the Uzbekistan State Committee for Statistics, referred to by Semyon Gitlin, reported that 19,700 Crimean Tatars, making up 9.2 per cent of the total number of people leaving Uzbekistan, had left (Central Asia and the Caucasus 2000). According to Gitlin, "the breakup of the Soviet Union effectively mark[ed] the exodus of Crimean Tatars from the republic. In subsequent years it slowed to a trickle, one of the main reasons being the difficulties of settling down in the Crimea" (ibid. ). Country Reports 1999 corroborated this latter statement (23 Feb. 2000, 2d).

In August 1991 Uzbekistan declared its independence following the break-up of the Soviet Union (Country Reports 1992 Feb. 1993, intro.) and on 28 July 1992 the Citizenship Law of Uzbekistan was adopted (UNHCR 22 June 1999; COE 18 Feb. 2000, sec. III.3.18).

In terms of population size, the 1989 Soviet census listed the Tartar ethnic minority as consisting of 188,772 people (MRGI Apr. 1997, 33), and Country Reports 1992 reported that Tartars made up approximately 4 per cent of the total population of 21 million (Feb. 1993, 975). Recent estimates of the Tartar population in Uzbekistan vary amongst the sources: in 1997 Minority Rights Group International (MRGI) stated that 200,000 Tartars remain in Uzbekistan (Apr. 1997, 33), whereas the Council of Europe (COE) estimated the number to be 30,000 in February 2000 (18 Feb. 2000, sec. III.1.3), and the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatars quoted 90,000 in October 2000 (AP-Blitz 13 Oct. 2000; Foreign Policy of Ukraine 13 Oct. 2000). According to the Russian News Network's "The Demographic Data and Trends in the Former Republics of the U.S.S.R," the Tatar population in Uzbekistan remained 2.4 per cent of the total population from 1993-1996, then dropped to 1.5 per cent of the total population from 1998-2000 (n.d.). The source did not provide comparative statistics for the total population.

Crimean Tartars in Uzbekistan hold Uzbek citizenship (Intelnews 25 Aug. 1998; Impact International Jan. 1999; Central Asia and the Caucasus 2000) and, according to Country Reports 1999, "enjoy the same rights as other citizens" (23 Feb. 2000, sec. 2d). However, a 26 October 2000 Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) article stated that many of the Crimean Tartars in Uzbekistan "have difficulties getting citizenship and finding jobs." Corroboration of these difficulties could not be found among the sources consulted. In a January 1996 interview with journalist James Rupert of the International Herald Tribune, Nazla Feyem, a Crimean Tartar from Uzbekistan who returned to Crimea in 1991, stated that "In Uzbekistan, Tatars are being turned into Uzbeks and Russians. We are losing our language, our culture and our identity" (11 Jan. 1996). Corroboration of this assessment could not be found among the sources consulted.

In 1996 the Uzbek and Ukraine governments began discussions on how to ease the process for Crimean Tartars to return to Crimea from Uzbekistan (Interfax 16 Sept. 1996). The UNHCR supported these talks and worked with both governments to accomplish this endeavour (UNHCR 22 June 1999; RFE/RL 27 Oct. 1998; COE 18 Feb. 2000, sec. III.3.23).

On 31 July 1998 a presidential decree "On the Interim Order of Registration of the Deported People, Their Children and Grandchildren Renouncing the Uzbek Citizenship" was passed in Uzbekistan (ForUm 30 July 2002).

In August 1998, in order to simplify the return of Crimean Tartars from Uzbekistan to Crimea, the Uzbek and Ukrainian governments signed The Agreement on the Prevention of Dual Citizenship that accelerated and simplified the process to relinquish Uzbek citizenship and obtain Ukrainian citizenship (UNHCR 22 June 1999; Intelnews 25 Aug. 1998; COE 18 Feb. 2000 sec.III.3.23; Impact International Jan. 1999). On 4 September 1998 this decree came into effect, making it easier for those Crimean Tartars deported by Stalin, and their descendants, to return to Ukraine (The Ukrainian Times 5 June 2001; UCIPR 27 May 2002). This agreement was extended several times (UNHCR 22 June 1999; RFE/RL 26 Oct. 2000), most recently until the end of 2001 (The Ukrainian Times 5 June 2001; Foreign Policy of Ukraine 12 Oct. 2000). According to Ukrainian official estimates of the late 1990s that were quoted in Anwar H. Chowdhury's article, 65,000 of the 81,000 Crimean Tartars who had returned to Crimea to live as foreigners held Uzbek citizenship (Impact International Jan. 1999). Intelnews corroborated those figures (25 Aug. 1998), although Semyon Gitlin reported that the number was more than 60,000 (Central Asia and the Caucasus 2000).

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.


ASIA-Plus Information Agency (AP-Blitz) [Dushanbe]. 13 October 2000. No. 196 (609). News in Brief. "A Number of Inter-Government Agreements and Inter-Departmental Have Been Signed in the Course of the Uzbek-Ukrainian Negotiations in Tashkent." [Accessed 11 Sept. 2002]

Central Asia and the Caucasus [Sweden]. 2000. No. 1. Semyon Gitlin. "Crimean Tatars in Uzbekistan: Problems and Developments." [Accessed 12 Sept. 2002]

Semyon Gitlin is a professor, PhD (History), senior research associate with the Institute of Russian and East-European Studies at Tel-Aviv University in Israel.

Council of Europe (COE), Committee on Migration, Refugees and Demography. 18 February 2000. Repatriation and integration of the Tatars of Crimea. Doc. 8655. Rapporteur Lord Ponsonby, United Kingdom, Socialist Group. [Accessed 12 Sept. 2002]

Country Reports on Human Right Practices for 1999. 23 February 2000. United States Department of State. [Accessed 11 Sept. 2002]

Country Reports on Human Right Practices for 1992. February 1993. United States Department of State. Washington, DC: United States Government Printing Office.

Foreign Policy of Ukraine. 13 October 2000. Press Release #45. "12.10.00: President Kuchma Visited Uzbekistan." [Accessed 12 Sept. 2002]

ForUm [Kiev]. 30 July 2002. "14.17: Mejlis to Campaign for Crimean Tartars in Uzbekistan to Receive Ukraine's Citizenship." [Accessed 11 Sept. 2002]

Impact International [London]. January 1999. Vol. 29, No. 1. Anwar H. Chowdhury. "Tatar Victims of Stalin: 81,000 Still Foreigners in Their Homeland." [Accessed 12 Sept. 2002]

Intelnews News Agency [Kiev, in English]. 25 August 1998. "Immigration Official Reports Few Crimean Tatars Taking Ukrainian Citizenship." (BBC Summary 28 Aug. 1998/NEXIS)

Interfax [Moscow, in English]. 16 September 1996. "Uzbekistan: Ukraine to Propose Examination of Crimea Tatar Issue." (FBIS-SOV-96-182/WNC)

International Herald Tribune (IHT). 11 January 1996. James Rupert. "Tatars Return to an Inhospitable Home in Crimea; Back From Uzbekistan/Reversing the Trek of Stalinist Exile." (NEXIS)

Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs (JMMA) [London]. October 1997. Vol. 17, No. 2. Brian G. Williams. "A Community Reimagined: The Role of 'Homeland' in the Forging of National Identity: The Case of the Crimean Tartars." London: Institute of Minority Affairs.

Minority Rights Group International (MRGI). April 1997. No. 96.6. Shirin Akiner. Central Asia: Conflict or Stability and Development. London: MRGI.

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL). 14 June 2002. Jeremy Bransten. "Ukraine: Visit by OSCE Commissioner Refocuses Attention on Crimean Tatars." [Accessed 16 Sept. 2002]

_____. 27 October 1998. Newsline. "UNHCR To Support Crimean Tatars." [Accessed 16 Sept. 2002]

_____. 26 October 2000. Vol. 1, No. 24. (UN)Civil Societies. "Resettlement of Crimean Tatars Eased?" [Accessed 16 Sept. 2002]

Russian News Network. n.d. " Demographic Data and Trends in the Former Republics of the U.S.S.R.: Central Asia: Change in Ethnic Composition From 1993-2000." [Accessed 11 Sept. 2002]

UCIPR Research Update [Kiev]. 27 May 2002. No. 21/269. "Crimean Tatar Issue and Recent Election Results." [Accessed 12 Sept. 2002]

The Ukraine Center for Independent Political Research (UCIPR) is a non-partisan nongovernmental think tank aiming at providing analysis of domestic and foreign policy, as well s providing information support and consulting to democratic institutions in Ukraine.

The Ukrainian Times. 5 June 2001. "Formerly Deported Crimean Tatars to Acquire Ukrainian Citizenship." (NEXIS)

UNHCR. 22 June 1999. UNHCR Press Releases. "UNHCR Urges 35,000 Crimean Tatars to Apply for Citizenship Before the Year End." [Accessed 12 Sept. 2002]

Additional Sources Consulted

Background Notes: Uzbekistan. September 1998, May 2002. (US Department of State)

Country Reports on Human Right Practices. February 1994, March 1996, February 1998, February 2000, March 2001, 4 March 2002. (US Department of State)

Electronic databases: IRB, WNC.

Human Rights in Developing Countries [The Hague]. Annually. 1995-2000.

Human Rights Watch 2000. December 2001.

In Exile: The Magazine on Refugee Rights [London]. Bi-monthly. September 1998-July/August 2002.

Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs [London]. Bi-annually. January 1993-April 2002.

Kazakstan, Kyrgystan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan Country Studies. 1997.

The New Encyclopaedia Britannica. Various volumes.

The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Modern Islamic World. 1995.

Resource Centre. "Uzbekistan: country file."

Transitions: Changes in Post-Communist Societies [Prague]. Monthly. September 1997-March 1999.

Transitions: Events and Issues in the Former Soviet Union and East Central and Eastern Europe. Fortnightly. December 1996-March 1997.

Internet sites, including

British Council Uzbekistan

Central Asia and the Caucasus: Center for Social and Political Studies.

Human Rights Watch

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty

Copyright notice: This document is published with the permission of the copyright holder and producer Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB). The original version of this document may be found on the offical website of the IRB at Documents earlier than 2003 may be found only on Refworld.

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