On Sunday, the Tashkent and Central Asian eparchy are celebrating the 130th anniversary of the Russian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchy's presence in Central Asia. The first Orthodox cathedral was built in Tashkent after Central Asian provinces had joined the Russian Empire and first Russians settled in the area. The Russian Orthodox Church has always lived in peace and accord with local Islamic mosques. During the Stalinist purges, it faced bans and persecution. Following the break-up of the USSR in 1992 the majority of the Russian population that lived in Uzbekistan stayed there. Policies of the local authorities are tolerant and respectful of non-traditional confessions, including the Russian Orthodox Church. During the last decade, the number of congregations of the eparchy have grown from 56 to 100, said Archbishop of Tashkent and Central Asia Vladimir. He stressed that today the largest Russian-speaking population in the Central Asian Region - over 1,200,000 people - lives in Uzbekistan. The Russian Orthodox Church has 36 churches and houses of prayer in the country, a seminary, one monastery, and two convents. In addition, Orthodox churches operate in every region within Uzbekistan. The festivities connected to the anniversary started on Friday with charitable events. On Sunday, at the Svyato-Uspensky Cathedral Church, the celebratory liturgy was carried out to mark the date. In the evening, a special meeting to mark the 130th anniversary of the Russian Orthodox Church's presence in Central Asia will take place in the Bolshoi Theatre of Opera and Ballet named after Alisher Navoi. The parson choir of the Cathedral Church and Uzbekistan's celebrated artists will give a concert for the participants of the special meeting.