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Central Asian state. Annexed by Russia in the mid-19th century, it became a Soviet republic in 1925. It was the main cotton producer in the Soviet Union. Corruption was endemic and the region remained very poor. Ethnic tension between Uzbeks and Mekhetian Turks deported from Georgia by Joseph Stalin in 1944 resulted in massacres of Turks in 1989. After independence (August 1991) former communist leader President Karimov continued to rule dictatorially.

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