Staunton, May 13 – A group of Russian scholars who have been forced to leave their homeland either because they face repression there, some having been fired and others unable to work in conditions where academic and political freedoms are not respected, have formed an online Free University abroad.
Its faculty have now issued an appeal that calls on Western colleagues to terminate all contacts with Russian institutions but to continue to cooperate with individual scholars. Unfortunately, they say, this differentiation does not yet extend to Russian students; and that must change (freemoscow.university/enfree).
“Undergraduate and graduate students [in and from Russia thus] are being punished twice: the administration of their own state universities in Russia expels them for their anti-war statements, and foreign programs expel them for having been students at their universities yesterday.”
Such “disregard for the safety, health, and lives of the students is unacceptable,” the Free University says. “This is the very generation that resists the crimes of the Russian regime to the best of its ability.”
“Two years ago, when the first wave of politically motivated layoffs in Russian universities began, some of us co-founded the Free University. This university operates online and so far mostly in Russian, but it is open to all colleagues and all languages.
“We, Free University professors and other scholars outside of Russia, offer our cooperation in establishing a dialogue with the leadership of universities willing to renounce their rectors' letters and with student organizations that have already signed letters of protest against the Russian Federation's criminal war in Ukraine.
“We share the values of the free world, the values of non-violence. We do not recognize the right of an aggressor state to dictate its will to others. Today, the Russian state has embarked on a path of brutal violence inside and outside the Russian Federation, and we are ready to support to the best of our ability those who are suffering directly or indirectly from this violence.”
For a discussion of just how serious the elimination of academic freedom in Russia has become under Putin, see the discussion by some of the victims at severreal.org/a/intellektualnaya-katastrofa-kak-v-rossii-svorachivayutsya-akademicheskie-svobody/31843513.html.