KYRGYZSTAN (formerly Kirghizia), a member of the Commonwealth of Independent States, bordered on the north and northwest by Kazakhstan, to the southwest by Uzbekistan, and on the south by Tadzhikistan, with a population of some 4,500,000 people. In 1939 there lived in Kirgizian S.S.S.R. 1,578 Jews (0.58% of the total population), most of them, 1,031 (1.1%), in the capital Frunze. In the beginning of World War II many Jews were evacuated there. In 1979 Kirghizia had a Jewish population of 6,900, with 5,700 living in the capital Frunze which in 1991 was renamed Bishkek. In 1989 the Jewish population of the republic was 6,000 (with 5,200 in the capital); 178 Jews emigrated in 1989. In 1990, 1,170 Jews from Kyrgyzstan immigrated to Israel, 1,111 of them from Frunze. In 1991, the year the republic gained independence, the corresponding figures were 696 and 629. One Jew was elected to the Supreme Soviet of the republic in 1990. The government of the republic expressed its opposition to Islamic fundamentalism. In 1992 Kyrgyzstan passed a law making knowledge of the Kirghiz language a prerequisite for high government positions. This latter condition effectively barred most Jews from holding high government offices. (Michael Beizer) There were an estimated 3,300 Jews in Kyrgyzstan at the end of 1993. In 1992, 250 people left Kyrgyzstan for Israel, and 449 in 1993. Around 800 remained in the early 2000s. Three summer camps for the young were opened in the Kyrgyz highland in 1993: in Tioplyie Kliuchi, 60 km. from Bishkek (Orthodox, sponsored by Jewish organizations of Belgium); another one, run by Bnei Akiva – 30 km. from Bishkek; and a third, on the shore of Issyk-Kul lake. The camps were intended for Jewish children and teenagers from the whole C.I.S. Anti-Jewish articles appeared in some newspapers in 1993–94. The Russian-language newspaper Svobodnyie gory ("Free Mountains") in February 1994 condemned the immigration to Israel and blamed Jews for the problems of the country. (Daniel Romanowski (2nd ed.) -BIBLIOGRAPHY: U. Schmelz and S. DellaPergola in: AJYB (1995), 478; Supplement to the Monthly Bulletin of Statistics, 2 (1995), Jerusalem; Antisemitism World Report (1995), London: Institute of Jewish Affairs, 61; Mezhdunarodnaia Evreiskaia Gazeta (MEG) (1993).

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

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