Uzbekistan profile

A chronology of key events

1st century BC - Central Asia, including present-day Uzbekistan, forms an important part of the overland trade routes known as the Great Silk Road linking China with the Middle East and imperial Rome.

Ancient trade routes

Bukhara trading domes

Bukhara: Centre of Islamic culture on the Silk Road

7th-8th centuries - Arabs conquer the area and convert its inhabitants to Islam.

9th-10th centuries - Persian Samanid dynasty becomes dominant and develops Bukhara as important centre of Islamic culture. As it declines, Turkic hordes compete to fill the vacuum.

13th-14th centuries - Central Asia conquered by Genghis Khan and becomes part of Mongol empire.

14th century - Mongol-Turkic ruler Tamerlane establishes empire with Samarkand as its capital.

18th-19th centuries Rise of independent emirates and khanates of Bukhara, Kokand and Samarkand.

Russian influence

1865-76 - Russians take Tashkent and make it capital of Turkestan, incorporating vast areas of Central Asia. They also annex emirate of Bukhara and khanates of Samarkand, Khiva and Kokand.

1917 - Tashkent Soviet established following Bolshevik revolution in Russia.

1920 - Tashkent Soviet ousts emir of Bukhara and other khans.

1918-22 - New Communist rulers close down mosques and persecute Muslim clergy as part of secularization campaign.

1921-24 - Reorganisation of regional states results in the creation of Uzbekistan and its neighbours.

Resettlement of minorities

1930s - Soviet leader Stalin purges independent-minded Uzbek leaders, replacing them with Moscow loyalists.

Uzbek women sell bread at a market in the ancient city of Samarkand

Women sell bread at a market in the ancient city of Samarkand, resting place of Tamerlane the Great

1944 - Some 160,000 Meskhetian Turks deported from Georgia to Uzbekistan by Joseph Stalin.

1950s-80s - Cotton production boosted by major irrigation projects which, however, contribute to the drying up of the Aral Sea.

1966 - Devastating earthquake destroys much of capital Tashkent.

1970s-1980s - Uzbek Communist chief Sharaf Rashidov ensures the promotion of ethnic Uzbek over Russian officials. He falsifies cotton harvest figures in scandal exposed under Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev's policy of glasnost.

1989 - Islam Karimov becomes leader of Uzbek Communist Party.

Violent attacks take place against Meskhetian Turks and other minorities in the Fergana Valley. Nationalist movement Birlik founded.

Independence

1990 - Communist Party of Uzbekistan declares economic and political sovereignty. Islam Karimov becomes president.

Tashkent

Tashkent park

Tashkent was rebuilt after an earthquake in 1966

  • Tashkent population: 2.1 million
  • Conquered by Arabs in 8th century
  • Captured by Russians in 1865
  • Capital of Uzbek Soviet Socialist Republic from 1930

1991 - Karimov initially supports the attempted anti-Gorbachev coup by conservatives in Moscow. Uzbekistan declares independence and, following the collapse of the USSR, joins the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).

Karimov returned as president in direct elections in which few opposition groups are allowed to field candidates.

1992 - President Karimov bans the Birlik (Unity) and Erk (Freedom) parties. Members of the opposition are arrested in large numbers for alleged anti-state activities.

1994 - Uzbekistan signs an economic integration treaty with Russia, and an economic, military and social cooperation treaty with Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan.

1995 - Activists from the outlawed opposition party Erk are jailed for allegedly conspiring to oust the government.

Ruling People's Democratic Party - formerly the Communist Party of Uzbekistan - wins general election.

Referendum extends Karimov's term of office for another five years.

Hand holding raw cotton Cotton, sheep farming, oil and gas are mainstays of the economy

1996 - Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan agree to create a single economic market.

Islamist attacks

1999 - Bombs in Tashkent kill more than a dozen people. President blames extremist Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU).

IMU declares "jihad" and demands the resignation of the Uzbek leadership.

Operating from mountain hideouts, IMU fighters launch first in several-year series of summer skirmishes with government forces.

2000 - Karimov re-elected president in election deemed by impartial observers to be neither free nor fair.

US-based Human Rights Watch accuses Uzbekistan of widespread use of torture.

2001 June - Some 70 people are jailed for terrorism following cross-border incursions in the south by Islamic militants in 2000.

Uzbekistan, China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan launch Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) to tackle ethnic and religious militancy and to promote trade, investment.

Rapprochement with US

2001 October - Uzbekistan allows US to use its air bases for action in Afghanistan.

2002 January - President Karimov wins support for extending the presidential term from five to seven years in a referendum criticised as a ploy to hang on to power.

Newspapers seller in Tashkent Media outlets are tightly controlled; self-censorship is common

2002 March - President Karimov visits US. Strategic partnership agreement signed.

2002 August - IMU military leader Juma Namangani reported killed.

2002 September - Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan settle a long-standing border dispute.

2003 May - Tashkent hosts annual meeting of European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, which expresses disappointment at President Karimov's failure to condemn torture.

Banned Birlik movement hold congress openly for first time in a decade.

2003 June - Erk opposition party holds first formal meeting since it was banned 11 years previously.

2003 December - President Karimov sacks long-standing prime minister Otkir Sultanov, citing country's poorest-ever cotton harvest. Shavkat Mirziyayev replaces him.

Civil unrest

2004 March - At least 47 people killed in shootings and bombings. Authorities blame Islamic extremists. Several dozen people are given lengthy jail sentences.

2004 April - European Bank for Reconstruction and Development says it is to slash aid because of Uzbekistan's poor record on economic reform and human rights.

Andijan unrest

Troops in position during the unrest in Andijan

Rights groups say hundreds were killed by troops in Andijan

2004 July - Suicide bombers target US and Israeli embassies in Tashkent; third blast hits prosecutor-general's office.

2004 November - Restrictions on market traders spark civil disorder in eastern city of Kokand. Thousands of people are reported to have taken part in street protests.

Turkmen and Uzbek presidents sign agreement on sharing scant water resources.

2004 December - Parliamentary elections: Opposition parties are barred from taking part.

Andijan killings

2005 May - Eastern city of Andijan is gripped by unrest. Gunmen storm prison and release inmates, some of whom had been accused of Islamic militancy. Troops open fire on demonstrators. Eyewitnesses report deaths of hundreds of protesters. Government puts overall toll at 190.

2005 August - Upper house of parliament votes to evict US forces from air base at Khanabad used for the campaign in Afghanistan.

2005 November - Supreme Court convicts 15 men of having organised Andijan unrest and jails them for 14-20 years.

Andijan trial

Court scene

Outside observers say the Andijan trial was stage-managed

Agreement signed on closer military cooperation with Russia.

2006 March - Sanjar Umarov, head of the Sunshine Uzbekistan opposition movement, is jailed for 11 years - later reduced to eight - for "economic crimes". The group had criticised the Andijan crackdown and urged economic reform.

Rights activist Mukhtabar Tojibayeva, a critic of the Andijan crackdown, is jailed for eight years for "economic crimes".

2007 January - President Karimov's seven-year term expires.

Sanctions eased

2007 August - EU eases the sanctions imposed following the crushing of the Andijan unrest, but emphasises its concerns about Uzbek human rights.

2007 December - Islam Karimov gains another term following presidential elections condemned as a sham by opponents and impartial observers.

2008 March - Uzbekistan allows US limited use of its southern Termez air base for operations in Afghanistan, partially reversing its decision to expel US forces from the Khanabad base in 2005.

2008 July - Representative of Human Rights Watch organisation Igor Vorontsov expelled.

2008 October - EU further eases sanctions imposed in response to the 2005 Andijan violence.

2009 February - President Karimov confirms that the US will be allowed to transport supplies through Uzbekistan to troops in Afghanistan.

Child labour controversy

New York activists picket a fashion show of the Uzbek leader's daughter

Activists protest against the New York fashion show of the Uzbek president's daughter, amid reports that children are forced to harvest cotton

2009 October - The EU lifts the arms embargo that it imposed in 2005 after the Andijan violence.

Tension with neighbours

2009 December - Uzbekistan announces plans to withdraw from a Soviet-era power grid having set up new power lines for its own use. Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, the poorest nations in the region, rely heavily on gas and electricity supplies sent through the grid and face shortages.

2010 February - Three men are convicted of murdering Uzbekistan's most prominent theatre director Mark Weil in 2007. They said they had killed him in response to his portrayal of the Muslim Prophet Muhammad in his play Imitating the Koran.

2010 June - Uzbekistan briefly accommodates ethnic Uzbek refugees fleeing communal violence in neighbouring Kyrgyzstan. Closes refugee camps within weeks and forces inhabitants back across border.

2012 June - Government announces plans to sell off hundreds of state assets in a drive to expand the private sector.

Uzbekistan agrees to allow NATO to remove its military vehicles and equipment through its territory as NATO-led forces speed up their withdrawal from Afghanistan.

2012 September - Government deprives largest mobile phone operator, Russian-owned Uzdunrobita, of its license to operate and arrests several senior managers on a variety of charges. Russian parent company MTS accuses government of a shakedown, and Swiss police begin a related money-laundering investigation that eventually involves President Karimov's elder daughter Gulnara.

2013 September - Media rights groups express concern at the brief detention of journalist Sergey Naumov while investigating child labour in the cotton harvest in the northwestern city of Urgench. Many major clothes firms boycott Uzbekistan over its use of child labour.

2014 January - Swiss prosecutors begin to investigate President Karimov's elder daughter Gulnara in a money-laundering probe. She left Geneva in September 2013, after losing her post as ambassador to the UN and other international organisations in July. She alleged her sister Lola was plotting against her in a power struggle in December, and disappeared from public into alleged house arrest in Tashkent.

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