GREEKS IN UZBEKISTAN
There are many minority groups living in
Uzbekistan including Russians, Jews and Koreans. But it is not widely known that
Uzbekistan is also home to quite a considerable number of Greeks. Some of the Greek Uzbeks
were brought to Central Asia in 1930s from the Black Sea region by order of Josef Stalin.
Other Greeks came as political immigrants to the USSR after the end of the Greek Civil War
in 1949. Greek immigrants were settled in Tashkent in several tight-knit communities,
so-called "Greek towns'. For those Uzbeks living near the "Greek towns," as
many of half of their school classmates might have been Greeks. Greeks that fought in the
Second World War and Civil War in 1947-1949 frequently tell stories about their fighting
exploits. As many of them have relatives in USA,
Europe, Australia, stories about life beyond "the iron curtain" entered Uzbek
society through this Greek channel. The Soviet government took care to preserve the
national identity of the Greek minority by setting up Greek language schools allowing
Greek children to study their native language. The number of Greeks residing in Uzbekistan
decreased rapidly in the period after 1974 when Karamanlis became the Prime Minister of
Greece and democratic rule was established there. Nevertheless, the Greeks are still part
of the Uzbekistani people and contribute in many ways to the political, cultural and
economic life of Uzbekistan.
Hristos Dorogidenis, Chairman of the Tashkent Greek Culture Society, is one of the
leaders of the Greek minority in Uzbekistan and his organization is committed to the
preservation of Greek culture in Uzbekistan. About 30,000 Greeks lived in Uzbekistan
before World War II and nearly 11,000 Greeks arrived after the civil war in Greece.
Currently there are about 9,500 Greeks living in Uzbekistan, with 6,500 living in
Tashkent. The Tashkent Greek Culture Society aims to bring the Greeks of Uzbekistan
together, but its activities are open to anyone, regardless of their nationality.
Uzbekistans Greeks observe all Greek religious holidays and maintain their own
archives so individuals can obtain necessary information about their relatives or for
Each summer, the Tashkent Greek Culture Society sends a group of schoolchildren,
usually 30-40 persons, to Greece for about one month. They spend three weeks at a summer
camp and an additional week with their relatives in Greece. A group of Uzbekistani Greek
pensioners visits Greece each year. The Society also organizes a class in the Greek
language that meets twice a week. All these activities require funding. The Greek
government fully supports the trips of Uzbekistani Greek school children and pensioners.
Last year, the president of Greece visited Uzbekistan and made a financial grant to
support the Societys work but the Society is mainly supported by contributions from