Death, dictators and the Soviets' terrible legacy
It is arguable that the wave of ethnic killings in southern Kyrgyzstan that started last Saturday -- which has left hundreds of Uzbeks dead and tens of thousands homeless -- is, at root, the fault of Joseph Stalin.
The Soviet Union was in theory just that -- a union of Soviet socialist republics. Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan were three of them. But whatever the theory, Stalin had no intention of allowing the republics to become viable entities or potential powerbases for rivals. So he intervened personally and the republics were deliberately messed up with boundaries that cut across natural economic units and severed cultural and ethnic links.
The names Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan might give the impression that these Central Asian states are the ethnic home of the Kyrgyz, Tajiks and Uzbeks. They are quite deliberately not that.