Very interesting. I had heard of this, but didn't know anything about it. I guess I sort of thought the pogroms chased most Jews out of Russia. I was especially interested to note that there is a statue of Sholom-Aleichem there. I couldn't find any specific reference as to why. The description of the capital city of Birobidzhan in Wikipedia talks about the importance of Yiddish to the JAR. Since he wrote in Yiddish, I'm thinking that might be the reason. Info about Birobidzhan is found at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Birobidzhan
Actually, Stalin killed a number of residents.