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The most recent parliamentary elections in December 2004 were seen by the OSCE as flawed, despite some notable improvements, because of the restrictions on the political parties allowed to participate in the elections, and the similarities in their platforms which deprived the electorate depriving voters of a genuine choice.A referendum in 2002 resulted in President Karimov’s term being extended by an act of parliament to December 2007.During perestroika, Uzbekistan was a scene of serious inter-ethnic violence.In 1989 bloody clashes occurred between Uzbeks and Meskhetian Turks in the Ferghana valley, and further interethnic tensions arose when fighting broke out between Kyrgyz and Uzbek populations of the Osh Oblast (Kyrgyzstan) in 1990.Main languages: Uzbek, Russian, Tajik, Kazakh, Tatar Main religions: Sunni Islam, Orthodox Christianity, Judaism Minority groups include Russians (6%), Tajiks (4.8%), Kazakhs (4%), Tatars (1.6%); other minorities include Karakalpaks, Koreans, Meskhetian Turks and Jews (National Census, estimate for 1998).Uzbekistan is made up of a number of traditional populations of Turkic (Uzbeks, Kazakhs, Karakalpaks), Semitic (Bukhara Jews), and Iranian origins (Tajiks), as well as more recent minorities which arrived in the country during the Russian and Soviet domination (Russians, Crimean Tatars, Meskhetian Turks, Koreans and some Jews).
Some of Uzbekistan’s minorities are from ethnic groups such as Koreans, Meskhetian Turks, and Crimean Tatars were exiled here en masse under the directive of Soviet leader Joseph Stalin during World War II.
Other tribes arriving in the 15th and 16th centuries were to coalesce into what would become known as ‘Uzbeks’, forming for a while their own state (‘Uzbekistan’) which would break up into three parts and eventually be absorbed into the Russian empire during the mid to late 19th Century when the Emirate of Bukhara and the Khanate of Khiva became Russian protectorates in the period after the Tsar’s conquest of Tashkent in 1865.
Few Russians settled in Uzbekistan during the Tsarist period, but many of the millions of Russians and Ukrainians who settled throughout Central Asia under the Soviet regime ended up in this country.
Uzbekistan declared independence on 31 August 1991.
Islam Karimov, a former first secretary of the Uzbekistan Communist Party, was elected President.
Independent political parties that do exist usually find they are refused registration.