Friday, April 30, 2010

Classes are finally done!

I am finally done with classes for the semester. Now I just have to grade a huge pile of papers. Then I can take my summer vacation.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Mobilization of Russian-Germans from Turkmenistan into the Labor Army

Between 7 October and 1 November 1942, the NKVD mobilized a total of 566 Russian-Germans in Turkmenistan into labor columns. Only 169 of these labor army conscripts were men and the remaining 397 were women. The NKVD then transferred these mobilized men and women by rail to work in other regions of the USSR outside of Turkmenistan.

Source: N.F. Bugai, ed. _"Mobilizovat' nemtsev v rabochie kolonny...I. Stalin:" Sbornik dokumentov (1940-e gody)_ (Moscow: Gotika, 1998), doc. 216, p. 288 and doc. 217, pp. 288-289.

Progress Report on Askarbek

Askarbek's English has been advancing quite well recently. He knows more English than his mother now. His teachers at school are quite impressed with his progress.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Last Week of Classes of the Semester

I only have two more days of classes this semester. After that I just have to grade lots of papers. My summer vacation officially starts on 28 May 2010. Today the last two of the four honors students I am supervising in International and Comparative Politics gave their practice presentations for their senior theses. Overall I think they went very well.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Future of the Kyrgyz Economy

It appears that things are going to get considerably worse in the near future. Food prices are going up again. I do not think wages will follow.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Life in Bishkek

Kyrgyzstan seems to be returning to its former position as a rather laid back and somewhat isolated country in Central Asia. The political situation seems to have stabilized enough for most people in the city to return to their normal routines. It seems a lot longer than ten days ago that a revolution overthrew the Bakiev regime.

Friday, April 23, 2010

More on Internal Colonialism and Deported Peoples in the USSR

The Stalin regime deported almost all the Russian-Koreans, Russian-Germans, Karachais, Kalmyks, Chechens, Ingush, Balkars, Crimean Tatars and Meskhetian Turks from their homelands in the USSR to internal exile in Siberia, Kazakhstan and Central Asia. These nationalities collectively suffered from all four features of colonialism that Robert Blauner believed applied historically to African-Americans as an internal colony of the US. First their dispersed presence throughout Siberia, Kazakhstan and Central Asia was a result of a forced transplantation similar to the removal of slaves from Africa. Second, this forced relocation in both cases greatly disrupted the social and cultural institutions of the displaced peoples. Third, these internal colonies came under the administrative control, largely through the use of police organs, of people belonging to the dominant ethnic group of the state. Whites in the case of the US and Russians in the case of the USSR. Finally, both African-Americans and the various deported nationalities became racialized by the state. That is the categories were defined as being inherited and immutable. The model of internal colonialism presented by Blauner thus closely fits the deported peoples of the USSR.


Robert Blauner, "Internal Colonialism and Ghetto Revolt," _Social Problems_, Vol. 16, No. 4 (Spring 1969), pp. 393-408.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

I got my money back!

This morning I went to the bank and got all my money out. So that problem is solved. Granted it was not a lot of money, but still it was earned with sweat and blood.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Note to students: classes only get cancelled if demonstrations are violent

Yesterday there was a peaceful rally in front of the school to get people to join the volunteer militia. Like other former Soviet states the police are still called militia here. Since classes had already been cancelled by the administration twice due to violent demonstrations, some of my students wanted me to cancel class in response to the non-violent gathering outside as well. I of course did not cancel class. In fact it is my policy not to cancel classes. The administration has a policy of closing the university if there is a threat to the physical saftey of students and employees. But, there was no such threat yesterday.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Revolutionary Aftershock

Yesterday I was again sent home for my own saftey as word of approaching rioters inspired the university administration to once again cancel classes. The university was unhurt. I have seen evidence that two people were killed elsewhere. I do not know much more. I am going to try going to the bank again this week to see if I can get my money. They told me on the phone I could get it today or tomorrow, but maybe there was a misunderstanding since the conversation was in Russian.

Monday, April 19, 2010

We have bananas now!

I have noticed that a lot of street vendors and merchants in the bazaar are now selling bananas imported from Ecuador. Oksana purchased some this weekend. In other news the government stated on television that they would pay back the accounts of people with money in Asia Universal Bank in two to three months. So maybe things are not going to be so bad. At least we can buy bananas now.

Saturday, April 17, 2010


Today I had to go to work to give a review lecture to seniors taking the state exam for graduation. I talked about ethnicity, nationalism, and race for most of the time and then covered political culture near the end. Tomorrow, I am not going to work.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Any Good Conspiracy Theories Regarding Kyrgyzstan?

Finding out any real information appears impossible for the time being. So I was wondering if anybody has any plausible or at least entertaining conspiracy theories about the recent events in Kyrgyzstan.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Life in a Country of Rumors and Gossip

It has been over a week since the revolution and I have still not met anybody who can shed any real light on what happened. Bishkek and the internet are filled with rumors and gossip, but getting any real information is difficult. Everything real takes place in shadows that ordinary people like myself can not access. This is not a very promising start for the provisional government.

Another Day in Post-Revolution Kyrgyzstan

This morning it was raining as I walked to work. By now the streets have almost assumed a status of normalcy again. The police still seem to be absent, but the rest of society seems to have resumed. Last night on the way home I saw that the Tan and Shoro stands had even set up shop again after several days absence.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Looking on the Bright Side of Things

Other than a huge pile of papers to grade and the fact I can not access my bank account things are going pretty well right now. I am hoping that there are no more violent disturbances in Bishkek. I still have no well grounded analysis of the recent events here. But, right now things seem fairly stable in comparison to last week.

Random Observations About Bishkek

I have noticed that one building not being repaired is the White House. Its windows are still broken out and its exterior remains scorch marked from the fire there on 7-8 April 2010. Most other damaged and even some destroyed buildings seem to be being rebuilt.

Last I heard on the news it will be two weeks to a month before I can access my money at AUB. This is better than what they told me at the bank. But, I am still sceptical.

Security is still a major concern. Only a small fraction of the city's police have returned to work. The university is now closing at 5 pm since it is dangerous at night.

I suspect that the economic situation in Kyrgyzstan will deteriorate considerably. The looting and banking scandals are major disincentives for any kind of foreign investment. Most of the large stores in the city were both foreign owned and completely destroyed during the looting.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Running of the Banks: AUB

Usually revolutions begin with the running of the banks. In this case it came after the revolution. The collapse of my bank and the freezing of my account does not make me very happy. Economically it seems Kyrgyzstan is turning into a Banana Republic without the benefit of any bananas.

Last night a friend called me and asked me what was up with Asian Universal Bank (AUB). I said I did not know, but that it was the bank in which I kept my money. Granted it is not much money, only $1,711, but still enough to worry about. I then called a couple of students and ex-students to ask. The overall picture I got was bad and I decided to go the next morning and withdraw my money. I got to the bank at ten minutes to nine and they opened a little after nine. However, they refused to allow me to withdraw any money. People with normal bank accounts, i.e. people who are not rich can not touch any of their money indefinitely. People with Deposit Accounts, that is rich people may take out up to 100,000 som (about $2,000). The bank was evidently looted by Maxim Bakiev and has no insurance outside of Kyrgyzstan. There were a lot of angry people in the bank. I signed a petition to the procurator, but I doubt that it will do any good. So currently I am out a fair chunk of change. If you see Maxim Bakiev tell him he owes me and a lot of other people some dough.

Fortunately, I have enough money at home to last until my next pay check without any problem. The bank told me I would eventually get my money, but they were not sure when. It could be anywhere from two to six months. But, given the complete lack of any law currently in Kyrgyzstan it is quite possible that I will never get my money back.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Update from Bishkek

Blogger is still blocked at work, but I can access it from a proxy server. The walk to work today was not much different than every other day. I did notice, however, a lot of people repairing damage caused by looters to shops and banks. Most of them had broken windows and "Biz El Menen" (Kyrgyz for We are with the People) spray painted on them. The university was untouched by the violence. So far it appears that none of our students were hurt during the recent confrontations between the previous government and opposition demonstrators. Rumors and speculation are rife, but nobody I know seems to have any inside information on what really happened.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

The Damages

According to the local television news the toll for 7-8 April 2010 in Bishkek is 79 dead and 75 destroyed businesses. Almost all of the big and medium grocery stores got completely looted. A number of them were foreign owned. For instance the Vefa Center near me with its new Beta Store anchor was owned by Turkish investors.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

How I Survived the Revolution in Bishkek

Since the afternoon of 7 April 2010 I have been without internet access. But, the local internet cafe is now open and Blogger is unblocked. At 1:30 in the afternoon on the 7th I was sent home from work in order to protect my safety. A rather large crowd of riot police had already gathered in front of both the parliment and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs next to the university. As I walked home I saw a large crowd of people marching with flags along with the trucks that were later rammed into the gates of the White House on Chui. I did not see anything else until the next morning, but I heard the mob of looters ransack the Vefa Center. We had just gotten a new Beta Store to replace Ramstor a week ago. Now the entire mall is in ruins.

The next day Oksana, Askarbek and I walked down to see the White House. There was a large crowd of people wandering in and out of the building. From the upper stories of the building people were throwing out a large number of documents. There was an impromptu memorial at the gate for the people who had died the previous day. We left when the leader of Ata Meken started giving a speech to an ever increasing crowd of people.

A large number of stores and kiosks were looted and burned during the night of the 7th. The police force simply disappeared that night. The looting continued the next night. It was not until Friday the 9th that I saw any police in Bishkek.

Today everything seems quite normal. I took Askarbek to the park to play. The little bazaar behind us is doing a brisk business. I purchased hamburgers for lunch. Except for the ruins of Vefa things have pretty much returned to normal in Yug-2.