Eugene Huskey on the Soviet Legacy in Central Asia
In 1979, Eugene Huskey was a graduate student at the London School of Economics when he landed the opportunity to spend a year at Moscow State University studying the Soviet legal system. By the time he departed, the Soviet Union had invaded Afghanistan and the United States had announced a boycott of the 1980 Summer Olympics.
In the late ’80s, Huskey was invited by the renowned Sovietologist Jerry F. Hough to join a team of American scholars studying the Soviet Republics as the USSR began to unwind under General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev. After the Soviet Union disbanded, Huskey was among the first Western academics in modern history to visit what is now known as Kyrgyzstan and meet with members of its government.
A professor emeritus of political science at Stetson University in DeLand, Florida, Huskey is the author of 2018’s Encounters at the Edge of the Muslim World: A Political Memoir of Kyrgyzstan (Rowman & Littlefield). He spoke to Reason‘s Mike Riggs in September about studying in Soviet Moscow and the politics of Central Asia after communism.
Q: Did you ever feel in danger while studying in the USSR?
A: No. In fact, quite the opposite. I had been there three times before 1979. I might be on the street at 3 a.m.—not very often, but occasionally—and I felt completely safe.
The people who tried to teach me fear were Soviets. I remember one young woman, who was a psychologist and the daughter of a famous scientist there, came into our dorm
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