Tashkent, Turkish for city of Stone is the capital of Uzbekistan and of the Tashkent Province. The officially registered population of the city in 2008 was about 2.2 million. Unofficial sources estimate the actual population may be as much as 4.45 million.
The city was destroyed by Genghis Khan in 1219, Under the Timurids and subsequent Shaybanid dynasties the city revived, despite occasional attacks by the Uzbeks, Kazakhs, Persians, Mongols, Oirats and Kalmyks.
In 1809, Tashkent was annexed to the Khanate of Kokand. At the time, Tashkent had a population of around 100,000 and was considered the richest city in Central Asia. It prospered greatly through trade to Russia, but heavily burdened under Kokand’s high taxes. The Tashkent clergy also favored the clergy of Bukhara over that of Kokand. However, before the Emir of Bukhara could capitalize on this discontent, the Russian army arrived.
In May, 1865, Mikhail Grigorevich Chernyayev, acting against the direct orders of the tsar, and outnumbered at least 15-1 staged a daring night attack against the city which had walls 16 miles around with 11 gates and 30,000 defenders. While a small contingent staged a diversionary attack, the main force penetrated the walls, led by a Russian Orthodox priest armed only with a crucifix. Although defense was stiff, the Russians captured the city after two days of heavy fighting and the loss of only 25 dead as opposed to several thousand of the defenders including Khan Alimqul, the ruler of the Kokand Khanate.
Mikhail Chernyayev was later dubbed the "Lion of Tashkent" by city elders after he staged a "hearts-and-minds" campaign to win the population over. He abolished taxes for a year, rode unarmed through the streets and bazaars meeting common people and recommended to Tsar Alexander II that the city be made an independent khanate under Russian protection.