Identification, Location, and Demography. According to Statistical data for 1989, the total population of Kurds in the USSR was 152,717. Of these, 56,127 were in Armenia; 33,331 in Georgia; 25,425 in Kazakhstan; 12,226 in Azerbaijan; 14,262 in Kirgizia; 4,387 in Turkmenia; 1,839 in Uzbekistan; and 56 in Tajikistan. The areas of dense settlement are in Transcaucasia (Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia). According to the 1979 census, the Kurds of Azerbaijan are not included among the major (more numerous) nationalities of the Azerbaijan Republic, because of natural and artificial assimilation. In Kazakhstan and Central Asia live the descendants of Kurds from the former Kurdistan District. The population figures are somewhat low, since in Kazakhstan many Kurdish inhabitants are registered as Turks or Azerbaijanis. Kurds live scattered in Ukraine, Belarus, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Moldova. At the present time a significant part of the Kurdish population has left Central Asia, Transcaucasia, and Kazakhstan for the Krasnodar region. Kurds staunchly retain a national self-consciousness. The majority of Kurds are Muslims—mostly Sunnis, some Shiites. A number of Kurds (called "Yezidis") are adherents of the syncretistic religion known as Yezidism. The religious distinctions have tended to separate the communities into separate Yezidi and Muslim settlements.
Linguistic Affiliation. Soviet Kurds speak the northern dialect (Kurmandz) of the Kurdish language, which belongs (along with Talysh and some other languages) to the Northwestern Subgroup of the Iranian Group of the Indo-European Family.