BISHKEK -- Kyrgyzstan says emigration from the country increased by 10 percent last year, partly due to the departure of some 40,000 ethnic Uzbeks following ethnic clashes in June in the southern regions of Osh and Jalal-Abad, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reports.
Aygul Ryskulova, former migration and employment minister and currently an adviser to President Roza Otunbaeva, told RFE/RL on January 4 that more than 90 percent of those who leave Kyrgyzstan are ethnic Kyrgyz in search of employment.
She said only 10 percent leave for "other reasons."
Ryskulova said 2,400 ethnic Russians left Kyrgyzstan for Russia last year within the framework of a Russian government program to help Russians "stranded" in other former Soviet republics after the collapse of the USSR in 1991.
She also noted that Moscow has not granted refugee status to any of the ethnic Uzbeks who requested it after fleeing Kyrgyzstan for Russia last year after ethnic violence left some 400 people dead and thousands homeless.
Ryskulova expressed concern over the extent of the "labor migration." She said that only half of Kyrgyzstan's 5 million citizens are of working age. If that migration trend continues, she explained, it will have a negative impact on the demographic situation and lead to "serious problems" in 10-15 years.
Ryskulova did not cite statistics for the total number of people who left the country last year or in recent years. But she did say it is far in excess of the 20,000-30,000 former Kyrgyz citizens who return annually and reapply for Kyrgyz citizenship.
Ryskulova said that category includes not only ethnic Kyrgyz but some Russians, Uzbeks, and Koreans.