Turks in Uzbekistan
|15,000 to 20,000
plus 700 Turkish nationals
|Regions with significant populations|
The First All-Union Census of the Soviet Union in 1926 recorded 8,570 Ottoman Turks living in the Soviet Union. The Ottoman Turks are no longer listed separately in the census, it is presumed that those who were living in Uzbekistan have either been assimilated into Uzbek society or have left the country.
Meskhetian Turks migration
|Turks in Uzbekistan according to Soviet Censuses|
During World War II, the Soviet Union was preparing to launch a pressure campaign against Turkey; Vyacheslav Molotov, then Minister of Foreign Affairs, demanded to the Turkish Ambassador in Moscow for the surrender of three Anatolian provinces (Kars, Ardahan and Artvin). Thus, war against Turkey seemed possible, and Joseph Stalin wanted to clear the strategic Turkish population situated in Meskheti, near the Turkish-Georgian border, since during the Russo-Turkish Wars the Turks of the region had been loyal to the Ottoman Empire and were therefore likely to be hostile to Soviet intentions. In 1944, the Meskhetian Turks were forcefully deported from Meskheti in Georgia and accused of smuggling, banditry and espionage in collaboration with their kin across the Turkish border. Nationalistic policies at the time encouraged the slogan: "Georgia for Georgians" and that the Meskhetian Turks should be sent to Turkey "where they belong". They were deported mainly to Uzbekistan, thousands dying en route in cattle-trucks, and were not permitted by the Georgian government of Zviad Gamsakhurdia to return to their homeland.
In the last Soviet Census, conducted in 1989, there were 207,500 Meskhetian Turks in the Soviet Union and over 51.2% were registered in Uzbekistan. The majority of the Meskhetian Turks settled in the Ferghana Valley, where many of them became financially better off than the Uzbeks. However, in 1989, their prosperity led to xenophobia directed against them, and ethnic intolerance developed into anti-Meskhetian Turk rioting in the valley, including pogroms in some Meskhetian neighbourhoods. The incident left over 100 people dead, over 1,000 injured and 700 houses were destroyed. In its aftermath, there were indications of plots by nationalist Uzbeks to continue their carnage; the Soviet authorities issued an official ruling that 17,000 Meskhetian Turks, virtually the entire Turkish population in the Fergana Valley, be transported to Russia. Another 70,000 Meskhetian Turks from other parts of Uzbekistan soon followed the first wave of migrants and resettled mainly to Azerbaijan and Russia. However, Turks who wish to return to Georgia would be required to change their names from Turkish to Georgian, the vast majority of the Meskhetian Turks have rejected these conditions.
Uzbekistan has not conducted a census since 1989 therefore there are no official statistics regarding the current Turkish population in Uzbekistan. International organizations have given rough averages, it is believed that approximately 15,000–20,000 Turks live in Tashkent, Sirdarya, Jizzakh, Kashkadarya. Furthermore, there are 3,000 Turks in Bukhara, 4,000 in Samarkand and 2,000 in Nawoiy.
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