Wednesday, December 30, 2009


The school is closed right now and I do not intend to go back to work until after the New Year. Instead I am spending the time with Oksana and Askarbek. Today Askarbek and I went shopping at Vefa and the little bazaar behind our apartment.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Other Accordion Player

There is a blind Kyrgyz accordion player on my street. He only plays during the day so I usually do not see him. However, since the end of classes I have been arriving at work later and going home earlier so I see him more often. I always make sure to tip him in coins so he can hear the money drop into his collection box.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Are University Administrations More Lenient Towards Plagiarism Today Than 20 Years Ago?

In my most recent post on plagiarism, Walt commented that he felt there has been a significant change in administration culture in the last fifteen years. That is today university administrations are generally far more lenient towards plagiarism than they were two decades ago. My sense is that this is true. But, I have limited data points. So my question to anybody involved in education is has there been a signficant cultural change allowing for the tolerance of plagiarism by university administrators and if there has been when did it happen?

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

Today there was a New Year's party for the children of employees of the university. I took Askarbek to it. He really liked the person dressed up in the Shrek suit. The party was held in the big concert hall with the giant portraits of Marx, Engels and Lenin. There is a blank spot where Stalin's portrait was painted over during the Khrushchev era. Tomorrow is Christmas for Catholics and Protestants here and I am taking the day off from work. I will be back at the grindstone on Boxing Day.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A Good Link on Russian-Germans Deported to Kazakhstan

In keeping with the theme of the last post Reuters recently carried a very good story on Russian-Germans deported to Kazakhstan by Stalin.

Mortality Rates Among Soviet Deportees 1941-1945 Part II: Russian-Germans

The Russian-Germans deported during the fall of 1941 also suffered extremely high death rates during the Second World War. On 2 June 1942, the NKVD gave the number of Russian-Germans deported to special settlement restrictions as 807,293 (Zemskov, p. 97). By 1 January 1945, the number of Russian-Germans counted as special settlers had declined to 496,811. Part of the loss can be explained by the reclassification of Russian-German special settlers as members of the labor army. The total number of Russian-Germans serving in the labor army on 1 January 1945 reached 105,268 people (Zemskov, table 21, p. 119). This means that between 1942 and 1945 the number of Russian-German special settlers and labor army conscripts declined from 807,293 people to 602,079, a drop of 205,214 people or over 25%. Again as in the case of deportees from the Baltic States in 1941 there are no large scale releases of Russian-Germans during this time. Given this fact we can assume that the vast majority of the missing deportees perished due to malnutrition, disease and exposure. One additional thing to bear in mind is that not all of the 105,268 men and women in the labor army in 1945 were part of the original 807,293 Russian-Germans deported from west of the Urals. A large number of them were conscripted from the local Russian-German populations already living in Siberia, the Urals, Kazakhstan and Central Asia in 1941. The actual number of deaths among the deported Russian-Germans is thus greater than implied by the figures given above. In less than four years over a quarter of the Russian-Germans deported from western regions of the USSR perished. Again these are extremely high mortality rates under any circumstances.


V.N. Zemskov, Spetsposelentsy v SSSR: 1930-1960 (Moscow: Nauk, 2005).

Mortality Rates Among Soviet Deportees 1941-1945 Part I: Baltic States, Moldova, Belarus and Ukraine

Between 14 May and 15 September 1941, the NKVD forcibly deported 85,716 people from the Baltic States, Moldova, western Ukraine and western Belarus to Siberia, Kazakhstan and Kirov Oblast as "anti-Soviet elements". The contingent sent to Kirov Oblast consisted of 2,049 people from Estonia (Zemskov, pp. 90-91). The total number of deportees from these western regions is confirmed in an NKVD report dated 2 June 1942 (Zemskov, p. 97). By 1 October 1945, this number had been reduced to 43,099 people (Zemskov, p. 115). This represents a loss of over half the deported population. There are no records of any large scale releases of deportees from this contingent which consisted of 27,887 people from Belarus, 22,648 from Moldova, 12,682 from Lithuania, 9,595 from Ukraine, 9,236 from Latvia and 3,668 people from Estonia (Zemskov, p. 91). The deportees from Belarus and Ukraine in this contingent are seperate from the contingent of the 132,458 Polish settlers, 75,662 Polish refugees (mostly Jewish) and 66,000 family members of Polish military officers and government officials deported in 1940-1941 that had all been released by a decree from the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet issued on 12 August 1941 (Zemskov, p. 97 and pp. 89-90). The 2 June 1942 NKVD report confirms that these other contingents from eastern Poland had in fact been released (Zemskov, p. 97). All evidence points to deaths from malnutrition, disease and exposure as the reason for the overwhelming majority of losses among the missing 42,617 deportees from the Baltic States, Moldova, Ukraine and Belarus. This represents an average mortality rate of over 12% a year or 1% a month. The losses for the Estonians sent to Kirov Oblast were a little less than half of the average for the total contingent. The NKVD counted 1,553 deportees from Estonia in Kirov Oblast  on 1 October 1945 (Zemskov, p. 115). This represents a loss of 496 people or 24% of those deported in 1941. These are truly staggering losses even by Stalinist standards.


V.N. Zemskov, Spetsposelentsy v SSSR: 1930-1960 (Moscow: Nauka, 2005).

Unblocked Again

After nearly two weeks of being blocked, Blogger is again available today. As I explained earlier this seems to be a chronic problem. But, today it seems to be working so I will put up a couple of posts.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Another surge in the war on plagiarism

In my American Presidency class I have had to fail four students out of twenty for multiple cases of plagiarism so far. In my own department, International and Comparative Politics, I have not found any cases of plagiarism so far this semester. It appears that the ICP department has become a plagiarism free zone, but the rest of the university lags seriously behind.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Final Day of Classes

Today is the last day of classes before winter break. I just have one more class with six more presentations. Then it is back to working on a huge stack of grading, recommendations and other student related work.

Thursday, December 10, 2009


Just out of curiousity how many of my blog readers have read anything else I have written?

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

I will not be allowing any more of that

Today due to extreme student procrastination I had to listen to 13 student presentations in one hour. From now on I am not allowing any students to delay oral assignments without serious penalties. Inevitably too many people want to go on the last day possible. Next semester I will be assigning specific days to students for oral presentations and those not ready on their designated day will get a zero. Such draconian measures regarding written assignments have generally been effective in the past.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

More Late Geek Blogging: District Nine

I saw District Nine this weekend. One thing that struck me was how inefficient private enterprise is compared to state socialism when it comes to ethnic cleansing. The corporate mercenaries in the movie allow themselves to be stymied by a pitifully small amount of armed resistance. This would never happen under a proper socialist regime. Stalin forcibly removed nearly 70,000 Karachais in a single day, more than 90,000 Kalmyks in two days, over 180,000 Crimean Tatars in three days, and close to 500,000 Chechens and Ingush in six days. Needless to say the Chechens put up far more armed resistance to Soviet rule than the aliens in District Nine did against a handful of South African mercenaries.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Quince Juice

Friday, I went to the supermarket to buy some juice. I purchased a liter of peach juice which is pretty common here in Bishkek. I also purchased a liter of juice made from a fruit I do not think I have ever consumed before, quince. It tasted a bit like tart apple juice.

Friday, December 04, 2009

It was too good to last

Today it is dark and wet again. So much for the nice weather. I knew it was too good to last.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

The Weather is Nice Again

Even though it is cold here in Bishkek today the sky is clear and the sun is shining. After a long string of dark, stormy and wet days this is a very welcome change. I hope it lasts for a few more days.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Recent Doings

Recently I have been busy at work grading papers, helping students with research papers and writing letters of recommendation. As a result I have not had much time to do much serious writing either for the blog or other media. I hope to remedy this later in the month during winter break.