Monday, March 30, 2009

International Crisis Game

This weekend I helped supervise an International Crisis Game here at AUCA. It was a simulation of a future Israeli assault upon Gaza and involved students from universities here in Bishkek, Osh State and KIMEP in Almaty, Kazakhstan. I was the supervisor for the teams representing Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. It was fun, but exhausting. Saturday's session ran from nine in the morning until six at night. Most importantly, however, I think the students participating learned a lot about how international relations work from the event.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Sixty Years since Operation "Priboi" (25 March 1949)

Sixty years ago the Stalin regime embarked upon the massive deportation of people from occupied Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia accused of being kulaks, bandits and nationalists as well as members of their families. Between 25 March and 30 March 1949, the MVD rounded up and placed on train echelons bound for Siberia over 90,000 people. According to one report by MVD chief Kruglov of 18 May 1949, the exact number of people deported during this operation reached 94,779 of which 25,708 were adult men, 41,987 women and 27,084 children. The largest contingent of deportees came from Latvia with 42,149 people (13,624 families) followed by Lithuania with 31,917 people (9, 518 families) and Estonia with 20,173 people (7,488 families). The Soviet government classified these exiles as special settlers and placed them under the same legal restrictions they had earlier imposed upon the Russian-Germans, Karachays, Kalmyks, Chechens, Ingush, Balkars, Crimean Tatars and Meskhetian Turks. The MVD dispersed these deportees to work on collective and state farms, mining gold and felling trees in Krasnoyarsk Kray, Novosibirsk Oblast, Tomsk Oblast, Omsk Oblast, Irkutsk Oblast and Amur Oblast.

Initial Location of Deportees

Krasnoyarsk Kray- 13,823 people (3,671 families)

Novosibirsk Oblast - 10,064 people (3,152 families)

Tomsk Oblast - 16,065 people (5,360 families)

Omsk Oblast - 22,542 people (7,944 families)

Irkutsk Oblast - 25,834 people (8,475 families)

Amur Oblast - 5,451 people (2,028 families)


N.F. Bugai, ed., Iosif Stalin-Lavrentiiu Berii: "Ikh nado deportirovat'": Dokumenty, fakty, kommentarii (Moscow: "Druzhba narodov", 1992), doc. 19, pp. 201-203.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Sadovaya (More Interviews with Deportation Survivors)

On Friday I went with my student researchers to the village of Sadovaya to interview more Karachai survivors of the 1943 deportation. Sadovaya is about 35 kilometers outside of Bishkek. They interviewed seven more people, four women and three men. The trip was very productive and the people we talked to were very nice and cooperative. This research project is working out much better than I anticipated. The students involved are very motivated and skillful and the Karachai community of Kyrgyzstan has been extremely helpful and friendly. I definitely would like to organize similar student research projects on other groups in the future.

Update: One of the students involved has written an account of our trip to Sadovaya on her blog.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

My very cool Nooruz gift

Today I found this comment on my blog from one of my former students. It came just in time for Persian New Year. I was so touched that I have decided to give it a proper post of its own.

Dear Dr. Pohl,

If you do not mind, I took my Sunday to read your Blog from the year of its creation until the semester we have met. I remain to be your reader from 2007 and on. You struggled for couple years. I am sorry you have been denied to realize your goals for such a long time. I just wanted to tell you, as your student, that You did prove them wrong concerning your teaching ability. You have set up an example of an academic who KNOWS his field. I am thankful to you that you have shared your expertise with me and my fellow students in class of Political Culture, and Borders & Migrations. I am also thankful that you have become more than an instructor to many of your students and have facilitated us to grow to our potential. You have added invaluable academic reputation to the International and Comparative Politics department of AUCA by pushing ICP students to think broader and deeper through a unique perspective.Thank You!!!




Today it is nice and warm again. It is also Nooruz or Persian New Year. There are all kinds of festivities going on in the center of town. My girlfriend, her son and I will be partaking in some of them in a short while.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Hazelnut Flavored M&Ms

Today I found and purchased a green bag of M&Ms at the university's snack bar. Marked on the bag was a notification that it had hazelnut flavoring. Like the orange flavored M&Ms which I have not seen in many months, I have only seen the hazelnut flavored M&Ms in Kyrgyzstan. At any rate I found the hazelnut flavored M&Ms to be very tasty.


It has been snowing heavily here in Bishkek since early this morning.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Similarities between Kyrgyzstan and Uganda

Today I saw Klaus Schlichte from the University of Magdeburg give a fascinating talk on the similarities between Kyrgyzstan and Uganda. In addition to political similarities he also noted that synergistic combinations of native and foreign influence were prominent in music and fashion. In Uganda people combine revived indigenous traditions with Imperial British ones. In Kyrgyzstan people combine reinvigorated native elements with Soviet ones. I had not really thought about these cultural aspects before, certainly not in a comparative manner.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Back from spring break

Last week was spring break. So I did not have any classes. This week I have had three classes so far. In my Politics of Genocide course I played the Dead Kennedy's Holiday in Cambodia. I thought it was a creative pedagogical tool. But, I am not sure if they got anything out of the song or not. In my Migration and Borders class I covered the 1948 ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians. Finally, in my Political History of the USSR class I covered the years between 1938 and 1941. In particular, I covered the Soviet annexation of Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Eastern Poland, and Bessarabia.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Still the Most Racist Thing Ever Posted on the Internet

Despite the passage of over a year this blog post is still the most racist thing ever posted on the Internet. The fact that the poster is a professor at an American university says much about the acceptability of anti-Arab racism among US academics. If the post had been about Jews rather than Palestinians he would have been fired from his job and blacklisted from ever working in a US educational institution again.

More Interviews with Survivors of Stalin's Deportations

Today we did in depth interviews with two Karachai survivors of the deportation. They went very well. One of the interview subjects was seven at the time of the deportation and had a very harrowing story of the deportation to Central Asia and life under the special settlement regime. Next Friday we are going out to do some more interviews with other Karachai survivors.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Spring is Back

It was warm enough today that I did not wear a coat to work. The beverage vendors have also set up along the sidewalk. So I think this means spring will be staying this time around.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Spring has Gone

This weekend it got cold again. On Sunday night and Monday morning we had a snow storm. The weather here is completely unpredictable.

Friday, March 06, 2009

65 Years Since the Deportation of the Balkars

In 1944, the Soviet government celebrated International Women's Day by forcibly deporting almost the entire Balkar population to Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Omsk Oblast in Sibera. A Turkic people closely related to the Karachais, the Balkars lived primarily in the Karbardino-Balkar ASSR located in the Northwest Caucasus. Starting on 8 March 1944 and finishing the following day, the NKVD loaded 37,713 Balkars onto 14 train echelons bound for Central Asia and Siberia (Bugai, doc. 29, pp. 113-114). The Stalin regime placed the exiled Balkars under special settlement restrictions identical to those that it had imposed upon the deported Russian-Germans, Kalmyks, Karachais, Chechens and Ingush. By October 1946 the Balkar population had been reduced to 32,817 due to deaths from malnutrition and disease (Bugai, doc. 25, pp. 244-245). The Balkars remained confined by the special settlement restrictions until 28 April 1956 (Bugai, doc. 57, p. 273). Only in 1957, however, could they return to their mountain homeland in the Caucasus. During 1957 and 1958, 34,749 Balkars returned home (Bugai, doc. 64, pp. 279-280). The Stalin regime's ethnic cleansing of the Balkars on International Women's Day in 1944 clearly violated the commitment to both women's and workers' rights embodied in the holiday.


N.F. Bugai, ed., Iosif Stalin - Lavrentiiu Berii: "Ikh nado deportirovat;": Dokumenty, fakty, kommentarii (Moscow: "Druzhba narodov," 1992).

International Women's Day

Sunday is March 8th, International Women's Day. Here in Kyrgyzstan it is like a super sized version of Valentine's Day and Mother's Day combined. But, its recent commercialization should not obscure its labor and socialist roots. It was originally intended as a day to promote better pay and conditions for women working in industry. The first Women's Day was officially celebrated in the US on 23 February 1909. It made it to Europe in 1911 when it was first observed on March 8th. Promoted heavily by the German socialist, Clara Zetkin, it became an official Soviet holiday in 1922.


Temma Kaplan, "On the Socialist Origins of International Women's Day," Feminist Studies, Vol. 11, No. 1 (Spring 1985), pp. 163-171.

Thursday, March 05, 2009


For some reason my Politics of Genocide class seems to have taken a great interest in the events that transpired in Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge from 1975-1979. Most of the students in the class want to write their final research paper on Cambodia. I hope it is not because they admire Khmer Rouge education policy with its brutal killing of teachers.

Russian Theater

Tuesday I went to the Russian Theater for the first time to see a play. The play was titled Fantazii i tol'ko. It was in a small room in the back and the boundry between the stage and the audience essentially did not exist. The play itself was interesting and well worth the 200 som I paid for my ticket.

5 March 1953

Fifty six years ago today Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin died. His regime killed millions in man made famines, firing squads, labor camps and special settlements. Only Hitler and Mao had comparable records of mass murder in the 20th century.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

65 Years Since the Demobilization of Karachais from the Red Army

On 3 March 1944, the GKO (State Committee of Defense) issued Order No. 0741 removing the Karachais from the Red Army and sending them to live under special settlement restrictions in Central Asia. In total the Soviet regime demobilized 2,543 Karachais from the Red Army and sent them into internal exile with only the clothes on their backs. Here they joined the remainder of the Karachais deported from their North Caucasian homeland on 2 November 1944.


N.F. Bugai, L. Beria -I Stalinu: "Soglasno vashemu ukazaniiu..."(Moscow: "AIRO XX," 1995), p. 63.

N.L. Pobol' and P.M. Polian, eds., Staliniskie deportatsii 1928-1953(Moscow: Mezhdunarodnye Fond "Demokratiia", 2005), p. 390.

Monday, March 02, 2009

New Link - Farhad Kerimov

I have added a new link to Farhad's Notes, a blog run by a former student of mine. He is currently in Chicago on a study abroad for a year program. His blogroll consists entirely of current and former professors at AUCA.

Update: 6 March 2009

It appears that his blogroll now includes his girlfriend as well. She is not a professor or former professor at AUCA. She is still a student here.

New York Times Post on the Marienburg Massacre

The New York Times of all places has an excellent article on the massacre of German civilians in what used to be Marienburg East Prussia and is now Malbork Poland.