Staunton, August 21 – The number of ethnic Russians living in Uzbekistan has declined from 1.6 million to 720,000 and, because the population of that Central Asian country has grown from 19.8 million to 34.6 million, their share of Uzbekistan residents has fallen from seven percent to just over two, according to the Uzbekistan State Statistics Committee.
That precipitous decline, one far larger than in most other post-Soviet states, has seldom attracted much attention or criticism from Moscow as compared to the Russian government’s reaction to other countries where it has been less. But it does explain why Tashkent is less affected today by this form of leverage than in the past (centralasian.org/a/31423546.html).
As a result of greater mortality rates among Russians and Russian flight from Uzbekistan compared to rapid growth among Uzbeks, ethnic Russians in Uzbekistan today are only the fifth largest ethnic group in that country, after the Uzbeks, Tajiks, Kazakhs, and Karakalpaks, all of whom have seen their numbers in Uzbekistan increase over the last three decades.
Tashkent released these numbers as it prepared to mount a census in 2023, the first such enumeration it has conducted since the republic acquired its independence. Tashkent has delayed in conducting a census at least in part because of the sensitivity of ethnic changes. But its release of this new data indicates it now feels confident enough to be accurate.