Steve Swerdlow ’06 was interviewed on a recent Voice of America broadcast about the resettlement of Meskhetian Turks from the Krasnodar region of southern Russia. Swerdlow, 28, is an expert on the conditions of this ethnic minority group, who have been denied citizenship, property ownership and other rights in Krasnodar. In 1944, the Meskhetian Turks were deported from their homes in the former Soviet republic of Georgia to Uzbekistan. Some 15,000 to 20,000 resettled in Krasnodar in 1989 when ethnic violence erupted in Uzbekistan.
Swerdlow, a Los Angeles native, worked with Meskhetian Turks while participating in a Russian Young Leadership Fellows for Public Service Program in 2000-01. He went on to assist advocacy organizations in a successful effort to secure U.S. refugee status for Meskhetian Turks last year. Since that time, some 2,000 Meskhetian Turks have resettled throughout the United States. “It’s really a portrait of courage and survival,” Swerdlow says. Swerdlow, who holds an undergraduate degree from UC Berkeley and a master’s from Columbia University, plans to join a delegation that will meet with government officials in Georgia this summer.