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Russians in Central Asia
In which regions of Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan do most of the ethnic Russians live today? The quora.com website investigated this question. We translate the article with permission.
In Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, the majority of the Russian minority live in the cities. With the exception of northern Kazakhstan, the Russians remained in Central Asia during the Soviet Union, either for economic reasons or because they were deported to the cities of Central Asia during the period of mass displacement.
The website quora.com found out where most of the ethnic Russians currently live in the three countries mentioned above.
Tajikistan has the lowest number of Russians in Central Asia. They live mainly in the capital. Several thousand have settled in small towns, but almost no one lives in rural areas. In the 2010 census, 34,838 Russians were registered in Tajikistan, which is 0.5 percent of the country's population.
Unlike most Central Asian countries, Tajikistan has never had a large Russian population. In total, never more than 400,000 Tajiks lived in the country, which is why they never represented more than 12.5% of the population of the Tajik SSR. During the civil war, most of the Russians left the country because of the unrest.
Of the three countries mentioned above, Kyrgyzstan always had the highest proportion of Russians. Before independence, one million Russians lived in the country. They made up 25% of the population of the Kyrgyz SSR. The Russians in Kyrgyzstan are mainly concentrated in the Bishkek area and the Chüi area in the north. There are also a lot of Russians in the eastern part of the Issyk-Kul region, where they live in tourist towns on Lake Issyk-Kul. During the 2018 census, Kyrgyzstan registered 352,960 Russians, which is 5.6 percent of the country's population.
After independence, most Russians left the country due to the drastic decline in living standards and widespread corruption - but that trend has declined as Kyrgyzstan has stabilized and developed democratically.
The Russian diaspora is very well integrated into Kyrgyz society, but mostly not involved in political life. There is no strong national feeling that society in Russians and Kyrgyz people is divided. Most combine Russian and Kyrgyz identities. The Russians in Kyrgyzstan tend to be more open than the Russians in Russia and it is not surprising that they mostly have friends of other nationalities and religions.
Uzbekistan has the largest population of all Central Asian countries and thus also the largest Russian diaspora, but not in terms of percentage. Russians in Uzbekistan live almost exclusively in the capital Tashkent. According to 2018 statistics, around 750,000 Russians live in Uzbekistan, which is 2.3% of the entire country.
During the Soviet Union there were 1.6 million Russians in Uzbekistan, at that time they made up 14% of the Uzbek SSR. After independence, around half of them left Uzbekistan in order to find better economic opportunities in other countries. However, this trend has now declined, similar to that in Kyrgyzstan. The Russian residents of Tashkent mostly have different jobs than the Russians in Bishkek, but they also mostly work in the service sector.
A Russian community is active in Tashkent. 20% of the city is made up of Russians, which equates to almost 600,000 people. The Russian community is similar to that in Kyrgyzstan. The Russians living in Tashkent have a mixed identity, consisting of Russian and Uzbek identity. You are open to other cultures and beliefs.
Translated from the Russian by Svenja Petersen
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