Staunton, October 24 – Concerned that university instructors or students could be the seedbeds of unrest, universities in Moscow already and in the regions in the near future have begun rating both professors and students in terms of their loyalty and “protest potential” in advance of the upcoming presidential race.
The Moscow newspaper “Kommersant” reports today that this new program was discussed at a meeting over the weekend of the pro-rectors of these universities and that the evaluations are being composed “’for the official use’ of the organs of state power” (kommersant.ru/doc/3124258).
Nikita Danyuk who heads the Institute for Strategic Research and Prediction at Moscow’s Friendship of the Peoples University took the lead. He said that gathering such information was necessary because “the state exists in a situation of undeclared war. It bears a hybrid character and has many fronts. One of these passes through our state – the mental front.”
Western governments given their experience with “inciting state turnovers,” he continued, view students “as one of the chief ‘destructive elements’” and consequently focus on them, hoping that they will be able to use them as a fifth column against the existing state regime.
For the last two years, Danyuk told the meeting, he and his colleagues have visited “more than 40 Moscow and dozens of regional higher educational institutions where students were asked to express their own views on political questions so that his team could assess “’the protest potential’ of students and instructors.”
Unfortunately, he said, it was the case that among the professors and instructors were those involved in “the destructive propaganda of anti-state ideas.” This is a real threat now and it will become a more serious one still as the presidential election approaches in 2018.
“Happily,” he told the meeting, “our state overcame the boundary of parliamentary elections with practically no losses.” But given the nature of Russia’s opponents, it cannot count on always being able to do that. He said Western agents were now devoting particular attention to universities outside of Moscow and so monitoring must be extended to them.
That this intimidating procedure is backed by the Kremlin is suggested by the fact that the institute in which Danyuk works is headed by an official who worked in the presidential administration as an advisor on foreign policy between 2005 and 2009.