Ethnic Minorities

last updated June 2014


The Advocates will no longer update this page after June 2014.
Uzbekistan is predominantly ethnic Uzbek, with minority groups including ethnic Russians (6% of the population), Tajiks (4.8%),[1] Kazakhs (4%), Tatars (1.6%), and smaller numbers of Karakalpaks, Koreans, Meskhetian Turks and Bukhara Jews.[2] Minorities are composed of traditional ethnic communities in Uzbekistan, such as the Kazakhs and Tajiks, and more recent groups who migrated to Uzbekistan, including ethnic Russians and Crimean Tatars.[3]
As Soviet influence has diminished in the region, discriminatory laws, such as restrictions on Russian political parties, refusal to grant dual citizenship to Russians, and the refusal to grant official language status to the Russian language, have been implemented.[4] Ethnic Russians have limited access to government and private-sector posts.[5] Ethnic Russians have responded by emigrating to Russia, with more than a million Russians estimated to have left Uzbekistan by 2006.[6]
Andijan Massacre
On May 13, 2005, government forces killed hundreds of civilians in the city of Andijan during what has been described as a primarily peaceful demonstration. This event has become known as the Andijan Massacre. Details of the massacre remain unclear as the government refuses to allow an international investigation.[7] Minority Rights Group International reported that the situation for minorities has not improved since the massacre, because it resulted in a crackdown on dissenters and many religious minorities.[8] 
Issues faced by ethnic minority Muslim women
Ethnic minority women who are also Muslim have suffered under the government’s crackdown on Muslims who have suspected associations with Islamic opposition parties.[9] Many Muslim men have been arrested and tortured, and many Muslim women have reportedly been arrested and threatened with rape.[10]
As reported by Human Rights Watch in its 2012 submission to the Human Rights Council for the Universal Periodic Review of Uzbekistan, Muslims continue to be imprisoned by the thousands for “religious extremism” or possession of illegal religious material, among other charges.[11]
Please see the main Uzbekistan country page for more information on Uzbekistan and violence against women.

[1] Some sources estimate this percentage is much higher, up to 20%. See, e.g., Belafatti, Fabio, “Ethnic tensions in Central Asia: autochthonous and Russian minorities,” GeoPolitika (March 10, 2014).
[2]. Minority Rights International, “World Directory of Minorities and Indigenous Peoples: Uzbekistan Overview,” (accessed March 21, 2014) (based on estimated National Census data for 1998).
[3] Minority Rights International, “Uzbekistan Overview,” (accessed March 21, 2014)._,
[4] Minorities at Risk, “Assessment for Russians in Uzbekistan,” (last updated December 2006).
[5] Ibid.
[6] Minority Rights International, “Uzbekistan Overview,” (accessed March 21, 2014).
[7] Human Rights Watch, “Universal Periodic Review: HRW Submission on Uzbekistan” (October 2012),
[8] Minority Rights International, “Uzbekistan Overview,” (accessed March 21, 2014).
[9] Ibid.
[10] Mushfig Bayram, “Uzbekistan: Devout Muslim ‘may receive up to 15 years’ in jail,” Forum 18 News Service, May 1, 2013,
[11] Human Rights Watch, “Universal Periodic Review: HRW Submission on Uzbekistan” (October 2012),