Beginning in 1865 the lands of modern day Uzbekistan
were taken over by the Russians. The Russians wanted the
land primarily for agricultural production and the growth of cotton so a number
of farms were created in the territory. Slowly over time ethnic Russians settled
the region and farmed these lands while the Russians built railroads to transport
these goods. The railroad brought in more Russians and soon the Uzbeks began protesting.
These protests peaked in 1916 when the Russian tsar decided that the Uzbeks could
be drafted to fight in the Russian army.
With the fall of Russia, came the rule of the Soviet Union.
The people were divided on Soviet rule; nearly all opposed this rule, but once it
was clear they would fall under their power the people tended to divide between
communists and anti-communists. At first Uzbekistan and
Tajikistan were united, but in 1929 they were divided
and Uzbekistan received the important cities of Bukhara and Samarkand.
Under Soviet rule the people suffered greatly, particularly under the rule of Josef
Stalin, which began in 1929. Numerous industries were moved to the region, but with
this came ethnic Russians. The Soviets also deported people
to the region, most commonly the Tatars and Caucus peoples. Urbanization also occurred
with ethnic Russians flooding into these cities to control the most important industries
Uzbekistan's fortunes became slightly better under
the rule of Leonid Brezhnev as Uzbek leaders regularly bribed him in order to gain
greater autonomy and self-rule. This worked better than it did in most other Soviet
Socialist Republics, but ended with the death of Uzbek leader, Rashidov. This led
to a blanket accusation by the Soviet government in 1986 of vast corruption within
Uzbekistan, an act done perhaps in order to re-gain control over the region. However
all it did was encourage independence and nationalism in the Uzbek people.
Once the Soviet Union finally collapsed in 1991 Uzbekistan
gained its independence, but this came with great ethnic tensions. The Russians
were treated poorly as many fled and Uzbeks now in other countries, most notably
Kyrgyzstan, were being "protected" by the Uzbek
government via numerous armed battles.
Since independence Uzbek president, Islam Karimov has
continued his racial campaigns as the country is becoming increasingly homogenous.
His government is also regularly accused of human rights violations and corruption.