Located in the very heart of Central Asia, Uzbekistan has developed its own unique culture that separates it from the surrounding nomadic nations.


  • Governance: Republic, unitary state
  • Capital: Tashkent
  • Population: 27.8 million
  • Religion: Islam (sunni) minorities of russian orthodox christians
  • Language: Uzbek (official), russian and tajik
  • Location: Central Asia
  • Democracy index: Not free, 7/100

Uzbekistan is mainly known as the land of ancient cities, dazzling mosques and mausoleums. In addition, Uzbekistan is also one of the largest producers of gold and cotton in the world. Although Uzbekistan is recently implementing reforms, it is still facing multiple economic and social challenges.

Despite recent reforms, Uzbekistan remains one of the most repressive regimes in the world. Thousands of political prisoners languish in prison’s. Human rights activists, members of the opposition and religious groups are routinely oppressed. The country’s LGBTI community faces constant discrimination. 

Uzbekistan today

Immediately after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Uzbekistan announced its independence. From 1991 to 2016, Islam Karimov remained president of the country, destroying any opposition, imprisoning thousands on politically motivated grounds. Torture and forced labour were also epidemic. Between the period of 1999-2000, Islamic groups posed a serious threat to the state through organizing terrorist attacks and attempting to start a coup. 16 people were killed, and hundreds injured in a 1999 attack. In 2005, the Andijan massacre took place when government forces opened fire against protesters, killing at least 187 people. 

Following these events, Uzbekistan policies turned isolationist, forcing most international organizations to leave the country. When Islam Karimov died in 2016, then prime minister Shavkhat Mirziyoyev ascended to power. During his presidencythe country has reversed some of its isolationist policies and made improvements in the field of human rights. Many political prisoners have been released and some international rights groups have been allowed back into the country.

NHC and Uzbekistan

The Norwegian Helsinki Committee’s work on Uzbekistan is mainly directed towards monitoring the human rights situation, various international advocacy efforts and support to local human rights groups, through our small grants fund. There are thousands of political prisoners in Uzbekistan and so we often campaign for their release. Following a campaign led by the Norwegian Helsinki Committee and our partners in the Civic Solidarity Platform, one political prisoner – the journalist Sergey Naumov – was released. 

In an effort to build capacity within the Uzbek civil society, we invited activists from the country to participate as election observers during the 2013 and 2017 parliamentary elections in Norway. We also make efforts to protect Uzbek citizens from rights violations, even abroad. In 2014, we advocated for the rights of six Uzbek asylum seekers in Norway, who were sentenced to long prison terms on trumped-up charges in Uzbekistan. 

The NHC made its first official visit to Uzbekistan in 2018. Read more about the visit here.


Since ancient times urban culture thrived in the lands of Uzbekistan. Attracting conquerors by its prosperous cities and silkroad trade routes, this territory was regularly annexed by empires and powerful states from the Persian Kingdom to the Russian Empire.

After the communist revolution in 1917, Soviet power was proclaimed in Uzbekistan. However, during 1917-1918 there was an independent state – the Turkestan Autonomy – which was soon destroyed by Soviet authorities, and in 1924 the Uzbek lands formally became the Uzbek Soviet Republic. Uzbekistan has seen serious ethnic unrest twiceboth in 1969, when ethnic Uzbeks and Russians clashed and in 1989, when an ethnic conflict took place between Uzbeks and Meshkhetian Turks. At the brink of the collapse of the Soviet Union, Uzbekistan suffering from economic stagnation, established the post of the President of the Republic, for which Islam Karimov was soon elected. 


  • 6th century BC: Rule of the Persian Kingdom 
  • 329-327 BC: The conquest of Alexander the Great 
  • 14th and 15th centuries: Rule of the Mongol Empire 
  • 1867: The establishment of the Turkestan Governorate-General  
  • 1918: Turkestan Autonomy established on the territory of Uzbekistan 
  • 1924: The Uzbek Soviet Socialist Republic is established 
  • 1990: First presidential election 
  • 1991: Independence from Soviet Union 
  • 2016: Election of second president 



Valentina Kazachevskaya

Regional Advisor in Central AsiaEmail: [email protected]Phone: (+7) 707 686 42 93
Read article "Valentina Kazachevskaya"


Ivar Dale

Senior Policy AdviserEmail: [email protected]Phone: +47 936 71 900Twitter: @IvarDale
Read article "Ivar Dale"


Marius Fossum

Representative in Central AsiaEmail: [email protected]Phone: +7-771-506-4955Twitter: @Marius_Fossum
Read article "Marius Fossum"