Saturday, May 02, 2009
It dawned on me yesterday that there is a lot more opportunity in Kyrgyzstan than in the Russian Federation to study the deportation of nationalities under Stalin. This is for two main reasons. First, relatively little has been written about the experience of deportees in Central Asia compared to the central policy of forced removal formulated in Moscow. In particular, Kyrgyzstan as a location of research on the life of special settlers has been neglected in favor of Siberia, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. This means the history of special settlers in Kyrgyzstan remains a largely unexplored area of research. Second, the political climate in Kyrgyzstan is much more favorable for the conduct of such research than in the Russian Federation. My student research team and I have not encountered any political obstacles in the course of our project on the Karachai deportation. In contrast the Memorial offices in St. Petersburg were raided by the police on 4 December 2008. They confiscated eleven hard drives containing a large amount of scanned documentary evidence of Stalinist crimes. These included a number of letters written by special settlers, interview transcripts of victims of Stalinist repression and other material .