Communist Dictatorship in Uzbekistan (1918-1991)

The Islamic state of Uzbekistan had been under the dominion of various Central Asian, Arabic Turkish, Tadjiki and Mongol tribes until the 18th century when the whole of Central Asia fell under the colonial expansion of Great Britain and Russia. The Russian expansion gained momentum especially after the Crimean War - in the 1870s, the Uzbeki Khan states were conquered and Uzbekistan was turned into a Russian protectorate.

Strong resistance to the Red Army and Bolsheviks after the First World War was eventually suppressed and the attempt to form a democratic representation of the people was repressed by the Soviet powers.

During the first half of the 1920s the military of the democratic provisional government and the scattered forces of the anti-communist Basmachi were destroyed. In 1924, the Uzbek Soviet Socialist Republic was formed which also included Tajikistan until 1929. In the end of the 1920s and the beginning of the 1930s a large-scale collectivization of agriculture caused wide-spread famine in Central Asia. During the political cleansing of 1937 and 1938, the bourgeois nationalists were almost annihilated, as well as the first generation communist politicians and intellectuals.

In addition, the local national culture was destroyed and ethnic borders were redrawn. The Russification which began in the 1930s continued with minor intermissions until the 1980s.

The extensive practice of irrigation farming and cotton growing in the 1970s and 1980s caused an ecological disaster in Uzbekistan and the overuse of agrochemicals led to a drastic diminishing of freshwater supplies and the desertification of the Aral Sea.

After the fall of the Soviet Union and a short period characterized by democratic liberties, Uzbekistan was declared an independent state in 1991 that joined the Commonwealth of Independent States. Islam Karimov, leader of the Uzbeki Soviet Central Party became president of the autocratic, repressive state.

The regime of Uzbekistan that keeps provoking rioting has been the centre of international attention and criticism for some time now. In the spring of 1999, Karimov founded the Commission for the Promotion of the Memory of Victims that was supposed to analyse and investigate political repression during the Soviet rule.