GOALS OF SOVIET RULE ON CENTRAL ASIA
Kirill Nourzhanov and Christian Bleuer wrote: The Soviet system was characterised by the incessant attempts of the state to establish overwhelming control over society. The belief that it had succeeded in penetrating all other social units, regulating social relationships down to the grassroots level, while appropriating and distributing resources at its discretion gave rise to the totalitarian concept of Soviet politics in the 1960s. [Source: “Tajikistan: Political and Social History” by Kirill Nourzhanov, Christian Bleuer, Australia National University, 2013 ]
“After World War II, with the fight against the basmachi long finished and the worst of the purges over, a picture emerges of a Soviet and a Tajik state with mixed effectiveness. For example, the local branches of the KGB were staffed by high-ranking ethnic European officers who could not speak local languages and were often rotated to new areas, and by local officers who were enmeshed in the local community and ‘tended to keep troubles “inside the family”’. Other factors show a Soviet state that is far from totalitarian. For example, the Loqay Uzbeks were at times confrontational with the state as late as the 1960s. While the government did defeat the last large Loqay ‘uprising’ in the 1960s by the use of force, the government — uncharacteristically for an effective totalitarian state — also offered concessions to the Loqay community.
“The main argument of the opponents of the totalitarian concept appears to be that ‘the continuous process of social mobilisation, the expansion of education, and the growth of numerous professional groups and organisations created in Soviet Russia a much greater range of nuclei, the kernels of civil society’. This notion was applicable to Tajikistan as well; however, here the Soviet state faced the toughest competition not from the offspring of its own development, but from the social institutions of tradition.
“The policy of Sovietisation in Central Asia envisaged the establishment of a ‘modern industrial-type society devoid of social antagonisms, where social interests would be uniform and national distinctions would be erased’. In the specific conditions of this region the implementation of this policy would supposedly invoke: a) accelerated economic growth, urbanisation and cultural development—‘catching up’ with the European part of the USSR; b) the liquidation of traditional patterns of socialisation—most notably, secularisation and dismantling of local ties and parochial loyalties; c) the installation of a new mode of socialisation based on uniform communist values; and d) the creation of viable Soviet nations on the basis of existing ethnic groups.
Russification of Central Asia
Industrialization in Central Asia continued after World War II. Factories opened up during the war helped spur industrial development after the war was over. Large numbers of Russians are other Slavs moved to Kazakhstan to work in the factories and mines. By 1959, Russians made up 43 percent of the population of Kazakhstan and Kazakhs made up only 29 percent.
Following the death of Stalin in 1953, the relative relaxation of totalitarian control initiated by First Secretary Nikita S. Khrushchev (in office 1953-64) brought the rehabilitation of some of the Uzbek nationalists who had been purged. More Uzbeks began to join the Communist Party of Uzbekistan and to assume positions in the government. However, those Uzbeks who participated in the regime did so on Russian terms. Russian was the language of state, and Russification was the prerequisite for obtaining a position in the government or the party. Those who did not or could not abandon their Uzbek lifestyles and identities were excluded from leading roles in official Uzbek society. Because of these conditions, Uzbekistan gained a reputation as one of the most politically conservative republics in the Soviet Union. [Source: Library of Congress, March 1996 *]
Resistance to Russification in Central Asia
As Uzbeks were beginning to gain leading positions in society, they also were establishing or reviving unofficial networks based on regional and clan loyalties. These networks provided their members support and often profitable connections between them and the state and the party. An extreme example of this phenomenon occurred under the leadership of Sharaf Rashidov, who was first secretary of the Communist Party of Uzbekistan from 1959 to 1982. During his tenure, Rashidov brought numerous relatives and associates from his native region into government and party leadership positions. The individuals who thus became "connected" treated their positions as personal fiefdoms to enrich themselves. [Source: Library of Congress, March 1996 *]
In this way, Rashidov was able to initiate efforts to make Uzbekistan less subservient to Moscow. As became apparent after his death, Rashidov's strategy had been to remain a loyal ally of Leonid I. Brezhnev, leader of the Soviet Union from 1964 to 1982, by bribing high officials of the central government. With this advantage, the Uzbek government was allowed to merely feign compliance with Moscow's demands for increasingly higher cotton quotas. *
Russian Migration to Central Asia in the Soviet Period
Sebastien Peyrouse of the Woodrow Wilson Institute wrote: “After this first pre-revolutionary migratory flow, several others followed, extending into the1950s. In 1926, the census listed 241,000 Russians in Uzbekistan, 5.4 percent of the population. A vast majority of them settled in urban areas, particularly in Tashkent, where they accounted for 13 percent of the inhabitants. This trend accelerated in subsequent decades, encouraged by Soviet economic programs, industrialization, and the extensive developmentof cotton farming. Many petroleum engineers and semiskilled workers arrived to organize the socialist economy in the 1930s. Between 1926 and 1939, 1.7 million men left European Russia to live in Central Asia, and numerous kulaks were deported there as well. Forty-seven new cities and 230 workers’ colonies emerged. In Uzbekistan, the number of Russians grew to 727,000 in 1939, or 13 percent of the population. Two-thirds of them were concentrated in cities, and more than 42 percent of those in Tashkent. Russians constituted 35 percent of the urban population of the republic. [Source: Sebastien Peyrouse, “Russian Minority in Central Asia: Migration, Politics, and Language”, Woodrow Wilson Institute, 2007 ^^]
“During World War II, the displacement of factories and industrial centers from the front lines to the Urals and Central Asia accentuated the tendency toward Russification. In order to be secure from Nazi forces, more than 1,500 factories moved east in 1941, of which a fifth went to Central Asia. More than 100 settled in Kazakhstan, bringing the number of industrial production sites built in the republic during the war to 500. The European presence intensified during the Virgin Lands Campaign: beginning in 1954, Nikita Khrushchev launched a gigantic program of land development that caused a surge of two million mainly Russian, Ukrainian, and Belarusian “volunteers” to Kazakhstan. Large “kolkhozy “(collective farms) were built, dominated by Russians from central Russia and western Siberia. Between 1939 and 1959, the population of Kazakhstan increased considerably due to this Slavic influx. The proportion of Russians in the total population of the republic jumped from 20.6 percent in 1926 to 42.7 percent in 1959. In that year’s census, Kazakhs accounted for no more than one-third of the population; there were three million Kazakhs, but four million Russians. The latter were especially numerous in the north of the country, their numbers growing to 80 percent of the population in cities such as Petropavlovsk and Ust-Kamenogorsk.^^
“Although many soldiers and civil servants were sent to Central Asia, pre-revolutionary immigration consisted principally of peasants. During the Soviet period, the Russians who relocated to the area mainly went to live in cities, though some settled in agricultural areas in northern Kazakhstan and along the shores of Lake Issyk Kul in Kyrgyzstan. The Central Asian republics were in need of specialists in the industrial and service sectors, and they attracted professionals such as teachers, engineers, technicians, and doctors. Soviet development programs summoned young, educated people to the region to occupy positions of political, administrative, and economic decision making. In spite of this massive surge of Slavs in each Central Asian republic, the demographic balance began to tilt in favor of the indigenous population because of their high birthrates as early as the 1959 census. Consequently, the Russian proportion of the population in Central Asia decreased in the 1960s and 1970s, but migratory flows remained important.^^
Virgin Lands Campaign
In the 1950s and 60s, large numbers Russians arrived in Central Asia, particularly Kazakhstan, as part of the Virgin Lands campaign , whose aim was to boost the Soviet Union's grain supply by bringing vast tracts of Central Asia under cultivation. The 1950s and 60s also ushered in the intensive development of the Syr-Darya and Amu-Darya rivers — mostly in Uzbekistan — for irrigation for cotton, which caused the demise of the Aral Sea. See the Aral Sea.
The Virgin Lands program was a largely unsuccessful program to convert the grazing land in the steppe to agricultural land for growing wheat. The aim of campaign was to boost Soviet grain production to a level above that of the United State and provide the Soviet Union with a safety net in case the grain crop in Ukraine failed.
Under dramatic Virgin Lands campaign in the mid-1950s, Khrushchev opened vast tracts of land to farming in the northern part of the Kazak Republic and neighboring areas of the Russian Republic. These new farmlands turned out to be susceptible to droughts, but in some years they produced excellent harvests. Later innovations by Khrushchev, however, proved counterproductive. His plans for growing corn and increasing meat and dairy production failed miserably, and his reorganization of collective farms into larger units produced confusion in the countryside. Future Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev began his political career in Dnipropetrovsk in eastern Ukraine. He made a name for himself by making the Virgin Land campaign look better on paper than it really was.
In the 1950s, some 640,000 migrant workers arrived in Kazakhstan, 1.8 million hectares of steppe—60 percent of Kazakhstan’s newly opened land—was plowed and hundreds of collective farms were established. The program helped Kazakhstan produce 20 percent of the Soviet Union’s grain and helped make Kazakhstan the third largest grain producer in the Soviet Union behind Russia and Ukraine. In 1956, Kazakhstan produces 16.38 million kilograms of bread, more than the 11 preceding years combined.
Problems with the Virgin Lands Campaign
The Virgin Lands program was ultimately a failure due to strange ideas about agriculture that resulted in the fertile topsoil being blown away and destroyed by erosion and loss of pastures land of animal herding, the traditional occupation of many Kazakhs. In the ends there were serious reductions of the number of livestock and wild animals and lakes and rivers dried up.
As part of the plan land was irrigated with water from the Syr-Darya and Siberian rivers as far away as the Ob River. There were plans to reverse the course of Siberian rivers and build canals with nuclear bombs but fortunately these plans were dropped.
Formally arid grassland yielded wheat but after a while the top soil was exposed and literally blew away in the wind. The land is some areas under intense irrigation became contaminated by salt and fertilizer chemicals. One participant in the program told National Geographic, “We didn’t have enough machinery. We’d start harvesting in August and quit when the snow came, then try to pick up the rest next spring.” Storage was a problem. Sometimes we just piled the grain on the fields.”
After Khrushchev was ousted in 1964. The campaign lost its biggest supporter and the scheme was largely abandoned and millions of acres of farmland was allowed to become grassland once again.
Russians Who Participated in the Virgin Lands Campaign
Khrushchev's primary domestic concerns were improving agriculture and creating enough housing to meet demand. Great tomes on agriculture were written in his name. The problems of Soviet agriculture had earlier attracted the attention of the collective leadership, which introduced important innovations in this area of the Soviet economy. The state encouraged peasants to grow more on their private plots, increased payments for crops grown on collective farms, and invested more heavily in agriculture. [Source: Library of Congress *]
More people, mostly Russians, arrived in Central Asia, mostly Kazakhstanm in the 1950s as part of the Virgin Lands program. Thousands of Russians, Ukrainians and Belarussians arrived by train in Kazakhstan to participate in the Virgin Lands program. Asia One Russia woman told the New York Times, “All young, unmarried people were urged to help. They said, ‘Build a new young city. Build Communism,’ and we were all volunteers. We were happy then, in the 60s. Imagine at 22, I was appointed a chief engineer! We had to set up a radio station, and there was nobody old from whom to learn.”
A Russia man told the New York Times, “Its got a voucher to come, which was very prestigious for a young man at the time. We had a lot of romanticism and patriotism in us, but nothing else besides our clothes. We arrived December 15 and I’ll remember that day all my life. It was so cold, and all I wanted was to get back on the train or go anywhere to get warm.
One Russian man told National Geographic, “It seemed that if we only did a little bit more, and a little bit more, we would find ourselves in paradise. We thought we were bringing the future to this country.” He then added, “The system gave us hope, but then the system vanished. And the people say now, ‘Why did you come here? You spoiled our pastures. We had a lot of sheep. Now we have no place to herd them.”
Russian Migrants in Central Asia: A Sociological Sketch
Sebastien Peyrouse of the Woodrow Wilson Institute wrote: “A large portion of the Russians in Central Asia, or their parents, came to the region during the multiple waves of immigration that occurred in the 20th century within the context of Soviet development programs. These immigrants occupied administrative or technical roles; thus, many of Central Asia’s Russians have an educational level higher than that of the average population of their republic, and of Russia. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the likelihood of departure appeared to be related to occupational qualifications. For instance, the proportion of Russians with an average or above-average specialized education who left Kazakhstan increased from 39 percent in 1994 to 44 percent in 1997. Most of the individuals who left the country were working age (64 percent) or younger (22 percent). This caused a very perceptible aging of the minority in each republic, since the youngest and most educated Russians left in huge numbers. In Kazakhstan, the average age of Russians is now 45 to 47 years, while that of Kazakhs is 23 to 25 years. [Source: Sebastien Peyrouse, “Russian Minority in Central Asia: Migration, Politics, and Language”, Woodrow Wilson Institute, 2007 ^^]
“Those Russians who had arrived for the Virgin Land Campaign or in the final years of the Soviet regime left first. Their roots in the republics were young and they still maintained strong family links with Russia. Those with the possibility of resettling in Russia’s large cities, particularly Moscow, or who occupied indemand professional positions, also left. Those Russians who remain often come from low social classes or are of advanced age. The situation is particularly difficult for Russians whose families have been settled in Central Asia for many generations, specifically the descendants of the peasants who came to the steppes at the beginning of the 20th century. Thirty percent of the Russians of Kyrgyzstan and 28 percent of those of Kazakhstan live in rural areas, but the proportion is less than or equal to 6 percent in the other republics. For these rural residents, the family bonds to Russia have been broken for several decades, and many do not know where they could emigrate.^^
“Although the Russians who emigrate are overwhelmingly urban, few can obtain a residence permit [“propiska”] for the large cities of the Russian Federation. They often live in small localities, the countryside, or in the depopulated zones of Siberia—not in European Russia, to which internal migrants from Siberia and the Far East already move. Loss of social status is the main consequence, as the occupations available in rural areas do not correspond to the education they received in Central Asia. For many, emigration is synonymous with a return to the earth. In their predeparture discourse, Russians from Central Asia present Russia as a depopulated country in need of agricultural labor. This return to the earth is thus, from their point of view, regeneration, making it possible to build a new life after the failures of independence in Central Asia. This myth of the pioneer, exalted in the speeches of potential migrants, very often runs up against reality. All these former engineers and teachers do not succeed in living off the land. In addition, they settle in areas of Russia already in full social crisis. These immigrants must face hostile reactions from villagers and often find themselves ghettoized in villages full of other Russians from Central Asia.^^
Atom Bombs in Kazakhstan
The residents of Kazakhstan also suffered from the ill effect of nuclear testing and neglect of the environment. The Soviet Union became the world’s second nuclear power after the United States when it detonated its first atomic bomb, "Joe 1," in Kazakhstan in August 1949, four years after the Hiroshima bomb exploded. The bomb was a copy of the Fat Man bomb. United States "sniffer" planes picked up fallout from the test. The design for the bomb was stolen from the U.S. by the German-born spy Klaus Fuchs.
As of 1995, the U.S. had conducted 1,030 nuclear tests, Russia (the Soviet Union) 715, France 209, Britain 45, China 43, and India 1. Kurchatov, a city in northeaster Kazakhstan, was an important center of the Soviet nuclear industry. Designed and tested here were everything from some of the world's most powerful H-bombs to tiny nuclear reactors intended to power the Soviet mission to Mars. The city was so top secret it didn't appear on any maps. [Source: Mike Edwards, National Geographic, March 1993 ♠]
Not far from Kurchatov the Soviets built an entire town with five story buildings, military bunkers and bridges. The put cars, tanks and planes on the streets; brought in sheep and dogs. And then blew it all up on August 29, 1949. No one was warned about the explosion beforehand including Kazakh villagers who lived 60 miles downwind.♠
Hundreds of nuclear blasts were set off at the site. People used to go to them as if they were a were a fireworks display. One person who did this told National Geographic, “They didn’t say anything about radiation.” Some 80 percent f the 1.5 million people who lived downwind from the testing area had weakened immune systems. Cancer and birth defect rates were also very high.
Biological Weapons Testing at Vozrozhdeniye Island
A top-secret facility on Vozrozhdeniye Island in the Aral Sea was the world’s largest biological weapons testing ground and was one of the primary testing grounds for Russia's biological weapons using anthrax and other diseases. The island contains pens that held thousand of animals—rabbits, guinea pigs, monkeys, sheep, donkeys, mice, hamsters, horses and baboons—that were used in testing. Around 1,500 people lived there at its height. [Source: Christopher Pala, New York Times Magazine, January 12, 2002]
Gennadi Lepyoshkin, a scientist who worked at Vozrozhdeniye told the New York Times, “About one-third of our work was on weapons, like anthrax, plague and others bacteria, and two thirds on matters like testing vaccines or clothing or how long microorganisms would survive in the soil....The atmosphere was friendly, people were earning good money and we were provided with everything.” The workers used to sunbathe, dance and hunt ducks in their free time.
Much the testing involved giving disease-causing agents to animals. Lepyoshkin told the New York Times, “We used monkeys, about 200 to 300 each year. Our staff would take them out to the range”—25 kilometers from the town—“and they would put them in cages next to devises that the measured the concentration of germs in the air. Then after they were exposed, they would be taken to the labs, where we would test the labs, where we would test their blood and monitor the development of a disease in them. They would die within weeks, and we would perform autopsies..” The testing was usually only done in the summer when temperatures sore to 120°F to prevent the spread of the pathogens.
Lepyoshkin said, “There was always danger, but we never had an accidents. He recalled on incident in which a woman dropped a petri dish containing anthrax. She tried to hide her mistake but her accident was discovered. Here punishment: she was docked some money on her paycheck. “No one got sick,” Lepyoshkin said.
Brezhnev Period in Central Asia
Kirill Nourzhanov and Christian Bleuer wrote: “The Brezhnev era was characterised by a high degree of stability in the ruling establishment in the union republics. In the 1970s in particular, the tacit compromise between the Kremlin and regional elites ‘allowed strong, extensive political machines to develop sub rosa in the Central Asian union republics’. Territorial bureaucracies had acquired virtual autonomy in handling domestic affairs. The long-serving communist leaders of Central Asia were regarded by the indigenous population as the fathers of their respective nations, who governed not according to some obscure laws imposed by Moscow but in line with traditional sets of values and practices. [Source: “Tajikistan” by Kirill Nourzhanov and Christian Bleuer, Australia National University, 2013 ]
“Donald Carlisle has coined the following metaphoric description while writing about Uzbekistan’s first secretary from 1959 to 1983, Sharaf Rashidov: There surfaced a variant of communist feudalism, or, to put it another way, an Uzbek version of Oriental Despotism, with Rashidov ruling as khan or emir and the CPSU bureau serving as a council of viziers. A great deal of power was also delegated to the party secretaries of the various provinces, who administered them much in the way begs (or beks) had ruled their dominions before the Russian conquest. The situation changed dramatically in 1985 with Gorbachev’s appointment as general secretary of the CPSU Central Committee. Curtailing the independence of regional apparatuses was crucial for consolidating his position at the apex of the Soviet power pyramid.
Russians Begin Migrating Out of Central Asia in the 1970s
Sebastien Peyrouse of the Woodrow Wilson Institute wrote: “Though the massive departure of the Russians of Central Asia for Russia is often presented as a result of the collapse of the Soviet Union, the inversion of migratory flows began well before 1991. One can even observe it in the 1979 census. In the 1970s, Central Asia was no longerregarded as a region of priority development, and the Virgin Lands Campaign was abandoned. The launch of important projects in Russia, in particular the new railroad between Baikal and Amur (the BAM), demanded a labor force of several hundred thousand people. Leonid Brezhnev’s policy of indigenization, also launched in the 1970s, made it possible for the eponymous populations to attain positions of power. It reduced the need for the presence of Russians in the administrative, cultural, and political structures of the republics. Additionally, it accelerated the urbanization of the eponymous populations, who were invited to leave rural areas. Thus, in Uzbekistan, the portion of the population living in cities increased 70 percent between 1970 and 1979. [Source: Sebastien Peyrouse, “Russian Minority in Central Asia: Migration, Politics, and Language”, Woodrow Wilson Institute, 2007 ^^]
“One therefore observes the first movement of Russians returning to Russia in the 1970s, precociously and involuntarily signaling the beginning of “decolonization.” Migratory flows toward Central Asia slowed, like those to the rest of the southern republics. Whereas some 117,000 individuals from Russia arrived in Central Asia in 1971, this figure dropped to 80,200 in 1977 and to 75,900 in 1980. During the 1970s, Kazakhstan experienced a net loss of almost a half-million people through migration, while Kyrgyzstan lost approximately 100,000.^^
“For the other three republics, the balance was also negative, by a combined total of 200,000 people between 1976 and 1980. The pace of population decline quickened in the 1980s, when Kazakhstan lost an additional 784,000 people (between 60,000 and 85,000 each year) and 850,000 people left the area’s other republics. Russians continued to dominate these outward flows. In 1980, for every 1,000 Russians who settled in Central Asia, 1,256 left. Their overall representation relative to the total population declined not only because of these negative migratory balances but due to the high birthrate of the autochthonous population.”^^
War in Afghanistan
On Christmas Eve 1979, the Soviet Union began a massive airlift into Kabul. Over three days thousands of Soviet troops were flown into Kabul or ferried in from across the border of what is now Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. Much of the military hardware used by the Soviets in the war in Afghanistan was transported through Uzbekistan.
Red Army soldiers were trained at a camp in Uzbekistan's Fergana Valley because its terrain somewhat resembled that of Afghanistan. Many recruits were fresh out of secondary school and endured five months of basic training. Many were told that were being sent to Afghanistan to fight Americans, Chinese and Pakistanis.
After the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan, thousands of Central Asians were drafted into the Red Army to fight the Afghan mujahideen. Many of the Central Asian were distressed about th idea of fighting against fellow Muslims. They admired the tenacity of the Afghans and some were radicalized and inspired to take up the call of jihad themselves.
Hundreds of Uzbeks and Tajiks made their way to Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, where they studied at conservative madrasahs and were trained as jihad fighters. Many of these were radicalized at madrasahs in Pakistan run by Deobandis, a radical Islamic sect founded in India in the 19th century.
Gorbachev Era in Central Asia
In 1985 when Gorbachev’s became the leader of the Soviet Union as general secretary of the CPSU Central Committee curtailing the independence of regional apparatuses was crucial for consolidating his position at the apex of the Soviet power pyramid. Kirill Nourzhanov and Christian Bleuer wrote: Gorbachev had far greater powers than did Brezhnev and Khrushchev at the beginning of their tenures; still, he worked feverishly to expand his power base, and by the time of the CPSU’s twenty-seventh congress, held in February–March 1987, ‘Gorbachev supporters occupied the key positions in the strategically important fields of foreign affairs, agriculture and personnel, a situation which none of his predecessors had contrived in anything like such a short time (if at all)’. It has been argued that Gorbachev may have needed to strengthen his primacy within the party before he could embark upon systemic reform, but people who worked closely with him, such as his chief of staff, Valery Boldin, have suggested that unlimited power was a goal in its own right for the new Soviet leader. [Source: “Tajikistan” by Kirill Nourzhanov and Christian Bleuer, Australia National University, 2013 ]
Gorbachev’s methods of re-establishing Moscow’s firm hand in Central Asia included wholesale purges, unfair trials and a massive influx of ‘trusted cadres’ from the centre... Confronted with increasing dissatisfaction with his line in the union republics, Gorbachev failed to amend it: ‘Given his complete lack of understanding, Gorbachev was simply dumbfounded when one nationality after another demanded attention.’
During the period 1988–91, Gorbachev destroyed the mechanisms of legitimacy for state socialism and eviscerated the party’s monopoly on political socialisation. Various alternative forms of social and political aggregation came into being to fill the void left by the shrinking CPSU. Analysing Gorbachev’s political reforms, T. H. Rigby has observed that ‘whereas in Russia proper the most influential unofficial organisations were concerned with general issues of political and social reform, in the non-Russian republics those focusing on national causes quickly came to the fore’. Ostensibly, Tajikistan was no exception to the rule—institutional processes in the republic had a distinctly nationalist imprint; however, ethnic mobilisation ultimately failed there (as did Islamist mobilisation), and political activism took the form of regional factionalism.
Legacy of the Soviet Period in Central Asia
Throughout the Soviet period, the Central Asian republics participated in the life of the union in a rather peripheral sense, and many phases of cultural life were unaffected by Soviet rule. Local communist parties suffered the same purges as those in other republics, but they exercised little political influence in Moscow. Regional economies were stunted by increased demands for production of cotton and other specifically assigned items. As was discovered in the 1980s, decades of Soviet intensive cultivation caused massive pollution, from which the region still suffers. Interrepublican animosities over access to scarce resources went largely ignored by Soviet authorities. The more liberal Soviet regime of Mikhail S. Gorbachev (in office 1985-91) saw increased airing of grievances that long had been withheld by the peoples of the Central Asian republics, but before 1991 no organized movement for independence had evolved from that discontent. [Source: Glenn E. Curtis, Library of Congress, March 1996 *]
The five post-Soviet states of Central Asia still are defined by the arbitrary borders created in the early years of the Soviet era, and the demarcation among them still fails to correspond to the ethnic and linguistic situation of the region. Thus, Kyrgyzstan and Turkmenistan have substantial Uzbek minorities, and Tajikistan and Uzbekistan have large numbers of their respective neighbor's people. Kazakstan has few Central Asian people of other nationalities; its largest minorities are Russian, Ukrainian, and German.*
Text Sources: New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Times of London, Lonely Planet Guides, Library of Congress, U.S. government, Compton’s Encyclopedia, The Guardian, National Geographic, Smithsonian magazine, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Reuters, AP, AFP, Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic Monthly, The Economist, Foreign Policy, Wikipedia, BBC, CNN, and various books, websites and other publications.
Last updated April 2016