Striving for Stability

Dill, Valery. "Striving for Stability." German Life, August/Septmber 1995, 24.

Thousands of Russian-Germans have left the former Soviet Union for Germany in the hope of a better life and future for their families. One of their greatest incentives for leaving is their fear that the political tide may sooner or later turn against them and history could repeat itself.

This pessimism is not shared by Valery Dill, the 42-year-old youthful and energetic chairman of the Council for the German People in Kyrgyzstan. An ambitious businessman and politician, Dill has managed to get ahead by working within the system. After 12 years in the Soviet army, Dill was appointed mayor of a small town and deputy to the previous parliament elected under Soviet rule. In February of this year, he was the only German in Kyrgyzstan to be elected into the country's national parliament.

Although he has visited Germany about a dozen times and has a brother and sister living there, Dill has no intention of leaving Kyrgyzstan.

"Our motherland is here," he declares. "My family and I will leave only if there is no work, the political situation changes greatly, or there is a war."

The number of Germans living in Kyrgyzstan has dropped substantially over the last few years. According to estimates, only 38,000 of the 102,000 Germans counted during the last census in 1989 remain in the republic, leaving only one German village--Rotfront--in what used to be the second largest German settlement in Central Asia.

Dill believes the only way to slow or stop Germans, especially the young people, from emigrating is to give them the opportunity to establish their own businesses.

"Those Germans who own businesses, land, and cattle stay here," says Dill. "This is their world."

Dill has done what he can to create jobs. He has obtained a loan from Germany to build a brewery in the capital of Bishkek, which is expected to be finished by the end of the year. To help those beyond their working years, the Council distributes humanitarian aid to elderly Germans in the amount of $400,000 a year.

Dill is also actively involved in helping to maintain the German language, both through the media and the German Cultural Center.

"If we lose the language, we also lose the culture," Dill states, yet in practice he prefers to conduct business in Russian, because his spoken German is fairly limited.

As a deputy, Dill aims to promote interethnic stability among the various nationalities and provide equal opportunities. Without this stability, he believes, no political or economic reforms will be possible.

Around 80 nationalities peacefully coexist in the mountainous republic of Kyrgyzstan, a country twice the size of Switzerland. Fifty-two percent of its 4.5 million inhabitants are Kyrgyz, 22 percent Russian, 13 percent Uzbek, and 2 percent German. This peace was last disrupted in 1990 when riots broke out between Uzbeks and Kyrgyz in the Kyrgyz city of Osh. For a few days there was concern that the violence would spread to other parts of the
country and the border between Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan was shut down. The situation has since been quiet.

Reprinted with permission of German Life.

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